Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram continue to face scrutiny for their response in combating online racism
Social media’s inadequate response to racist abuse of England stars is laid bare in a shocking TV documentary tonight.
A study revealed that Raheem Sterling was subjected to 78 per cent more online abuse than Three Lions captain Harry Kane in the build-up to Euro 2020 – 54 per cent of it racist.
And in Channel 4’s Hunting The Football Trolls, former Three Lions midfielder Jermaine Jenas warns: “Now it feels we’re going all the way back to the dark ages of racism.”
Black England stars Marcus Rashford, Jason Sancho and Bukayo Saka suffered abhorrent racist abuse online after missing penalties in the Euro 2020 final shoot-out against Italy.
Yet six weeks after the Wembley drama, only 20 of 105 accounts identified as posting vile discriminatory abuse had been removed.
According to the PFA players’ union, unmoderated abuse of black footballers on social media platforms increased by 48 per cent in the second half of last season.
And since the start of this season, tech platforms have been woefully slow to act again, with only six per cent of messages racially abusing 21 Premier League players being removed by Instagram (three out of 84) and Twitter (two out of 19).
Former Tottenham and Newcastle midfielder Jenas, tipped as a future Match of the Day host, said: “The bananas that were being thrown onto the pitch have turned into monkey emojis and gorilla emojis being sent to people on social media.
“And the use of the N-word seems to be normalised again, the amount that you see it being churned out on a weekly basis.”
He added: He adds: “We need to ensure these offending individuals are held to account like they are in other countries such as Germany.
“When I began looking into online hate targeted at players and pundits, I wanted to understand why the messages sent to me weren’t being dealt with, why abuse is growing and what we can all do about it.
“I don’t feel anything is going to change how social media companies deal with online hate unless there is real pressure.”
The programme will be aired 24 hours after a 50-year-old plasterer from Folkestone was given a 50-day prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, for posting a video containing racist abuse of England’s three unsuccessful penalty-takers in the Euro 2020 final.
England defender Kyle Walker said Rashford, Sancho and Saka were targeted for abuse because of their skin colour, saying: “I think it made it a lot easier for the people to say what they wanted to say, with the emojis they wanted to put in, because it was three young black players.
“I take my hat off to [Marcus Rashford, Bukaya Saka and Jadon Sancho] one million percent. To step up in the European final for your country and to take a penalty, it takes a strong man to do that. They’re heroes for me.”
Instagram and Twitter both insist they do not tolerate racist abuse on their platforms and they will take action when their account rules are violated.
*Hunting the Football Trolls, Channel 4, 10pm Thursday night.