Social media companies must do more to stop online abuse as Declan Rice's partner takes action

Social media abuse raises its ugly head again as Lauren Fryer, Declan Rice's partner, removes Instagram posts.
Social media abuse raises its ugly head again as Lauren Fryer, Declan Rice's partner, removes Instagram posts. -Credit:David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Lauren Fryer, Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice’s long-term girlfriend, has removed all posts from her Instagram account in the last few days after yet another spate of abusive messages, comments and posts were made about her. This is not the first and sadly nor is it likely to be the last time that incidents of this type have emerged and gained traction.

Back in March of this year, similar comments were seen circulating on social media. I find myself exhausted and frustrated simply seeing them once again and cannot imagine the emotions Miss Fryer must indeed be experiencing at this time.

The number of times the phrase 'enough is enough' is uttered without any meaningful action being taken which has a decisive impact on the state of the social media sphere and its ability to be such an easy vehicle for abuse of all types is demoralising. Social media has become the go-to for these online trolls to get their kicks from targeting people.

The strategies of organisations like Hope United in providing education on how to block online trolls and report their abuse are important but can often feel somewhat hollow. As someone with a trigger-happy finger for a block button myself, it can indeed provide some short-term release and escape; but it is not a long-term solution.

Often even discussing the words of what these online trolls say can lead to responses like 'don’t give them the attention they want'. Going back to the school-ground bully, the old-age advice of 'ignore them and eventually they’ll get bored and go away', but the reality of social media is the environment is so vast and numerous in profiles, these real-life tactics simply don't land.

Bringing them to the forefront is the best chance we have that those who can make meaningful choices will finally realise that their platforms outfit these individuals to abuse with little-to-no hope of consequence. Anonymity online has granted people a superpower that many have chosen to use for some evil practices.

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This is the latest example. Arsenal are doing plenty of work to bring this online abuse into the light, Jorginho has committed to ad campaigns revolving around the topic while Aaron Ramsdale has spoken outwardly about his experiences with it in the Player’s Tribune and on Amazon's All or Nothing series on the club.

We need to get out of the mindset that abuse will always exist or that by tackling it we're somehow infringing on people's 'freedom of speech'. The right to say what you like doesn't mean that you have the right not to be scrutinised for what has been said or freedom from consequence.

Yet we continue, despite talking about it more openly, to live in just the hope that change will happen. The worry is what it will truly need to take before that change comes to pass and what that might look like is surely not worth whatever it is these platforms are holding onto.