The PFA has offered support to a revolutionary new social media platform that promises to provide a safer space for online users.
Footballers Dan Bachmann, Josh Windass, Tom Cairney and Dan Gosling, vowed to change the game for social media users following the horrific abuse that they have seen in football over the past 18 months.
The ground-breaking platform– OPON – requires users to upload a form of ID before they can access special features and engagement functionality within the app. OPON will be the first British-owned social media site and aims to stamp out online abuse by making its users accountable for their actions. The venture – which is now open for crowdfunding investment – is being supported by the PFA and the Premier League.
Watford FC goalkeeper and Austrian International, Dan Bachmann, is one of the founding members of OPON. He said: “The idea was inspired by events in football but OPON aims to tackle the issues connected with social media, on a global scale: Catfishing, grooming young people for terrorist activity, human trafficking and the horrific abuse that millions of people suffer at the hands of faceless trolling accounts.”
Fellow founding member, Dan Gosling, left Twitter after receiving horrendous abuse on the platform. He said: “Online abuse is a scourge for millions of people and having personally experienced it, I know just how damaging it can be to our mental health. We feel passionately about making a change for the better, so future generations don’t have to suffer the same faceless trolling that social media users risk being subjected to now.”
Fulham FC captain and OPON founding member, Tom Cairney, said: “We want to make a real change to the social media landscape and make it a safer space for our families, friends and our children.”
Danielle Bamber, one of the founding members of OPON, said: “With the average person spending around two hours and 24 minutes of their day on social media and roughly 70 per cent of users experiencing abuse online, it is no surprise that the mental health of millions is suffering as a result of an unsafe social media space.”
Figures from the PFA and the Premier League showed that, when asked about the things that have the most detrimental impact to their mental health, 36 per cent of players cited social media as their biggest issue. PFA figures also revealed that 44 per cent of footballers received online abuse in 2020.
Danielle continues: “After the Euro 2020 football tournament, the online abuse of English footballers led Prime Minister Boris Johnson to meet with social media companies, but experts have warned that the global nature of the problem makes it difficult to take legal steps against the perpetrators and that the platforms themselves are not taking measures seriously or quick enough.
“While some automated moderation tools have been brought in and go some way to protecting users, social media platforms are increasingly becoming negative places – both for general users and for influencers who are driving people to them. We want to change that.”
PFA executive, Jason Lee, sits on OPON’s advisory board. He said: “If you keep trying the same things, you’ll get the same results. It’s time for real change and I firmly believe that OPON has the answer.”
Iffy Onuora, head of equality at The Premier League and fellow OPON advisory board member, said: “We’ve all heard the outrage and pledges to make meaningful change to stamping out online hate, but abuse on social media still exists, so it’s time to take control of our own narrative.”
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