WORDS FROM WALLIS: Social media giants need to act now over abuse
Social media is the norm for all of us these days. Whether it’s Facebook, which the older generation prefer, Twitter or Instagram, people are never off their phones.
Most of us have fun catching up with friends and the news. However, for some people this is not the case and they face racist and other online abuse. One of those who has experienced that is former World Cup winning footballer Thierry Henry, who has decided enough is enough and has closed all his social media accounts. Henry had 10 million Facebook followers, in addition to 2.3 million on Twitter and 2.7 million on Instagram.
Henry said in a statement: “The sheer volume of racism, bullying and resulting mental torture to individuals is too toxic to ignore.”
Ex-England and Manchester City star Micah Richards also revealed in his recent Sky Sports documentary ‘Tackling racism in football’ the extent of the abuse he receives on social media channels. Whilst he admits to having a thick skin and can cope with it, not everyone can.
Although the football authorities last month challenged Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s head Jack Dorsey to take more action against the trolls, to date the situation does not appear to be any better. The time has come for people to provide proper identification to open a social media account.
Faceless people with no followers should not be allowed to open accounts and hurl abuse at others because of their race, gender, appearance etc or simply because they performed badly on the field one day.
Criticism is part of everyday life, but not in the vicious way a small minority post.
They should be accountable for their actions and action taken against them. People should be free to express themselves, that is their right in this country, but not in hiding.
We all have a responsibility to consider what we post on social media and think before we post. How would you feel if you received racist or vile online abuse?
Perhaps you are thick skinned like Micah Richards but others are not, which can lead to tragedies.
The social media giants need to act now against those people hiding in the shadows.
Thierry Henry may be the first of many and it looks like the England football players are considering doing so for the Euros.