Twitter has officially responded to demands levelled at the social media giant to increase efforts in preventing and punishing racist abuse online after recent incidents.
Paul Pogba was the latest footballer to be subjected to racist abuse on social media after missing a crucial penalty in his side’s 1-1 draw with Wolves on Monday night.
The Manchester United midfielder’s missed penalty was seemingly exacerbated by the fact that he took over spot-kick duties from teammate Marcus Rashford, who had scored a penalty in the side’s last Premier League game, a 4-0 victory over Chelsea.
Pogba became the third black player to receive racist abuse within the space of a week. Reading’s Yakou Meite and Tammy Abraham of Chelsea also received racist messages online after both players missed penalties in recent matches.
Twitter has since released a statement which stated: “We’re fully aware of and share the concerns surrounding online racist abuse towards certain footballers in the UK over recent days.
“We strongly condemn this unacceptable behaviour, and have now permanently suspended a series of accounts for violating our hateful conduct policy.
“We’re proactively monitoring the conversation online and will continue taking robust action on any account which violates our rules.
“This is a societal issue and requires a societal response.
“This is why we maintain a dialogue with both the PFA [Professional’s Footballers Association] and [equality and inclusion organisation] Kick It Out and are committed to working together to address abusive online and racist behaviour across the industry.
“We continue to liaise closely with our partners to identify meaningful solutions to this unacceptable behaviour - both offline and on.”
The “dialogue” with the PFA and Kick It Out refers to a blueprint for tackling racism being presented by Twitter being subsequently fast-tracked given the greater immediacy.
Facebook - who own Instagram, where Meite received abuse - has also responded. A statement said: "There is no place for racism or abusive behaviour on Instagram and we invest heavily in developing tools and technologies to prevent bullying and harassment.
"People who repeatedly break our guidelines will be permanently banned from using Instagram."
The abuse has been widely condemned by fellow players including Pogba’s teammates Rashford and Harry Maguire, with Manchester United calling the abuse “disgusting”.
Disgusting. Social media need to do something about it... Every account that is opened should be verified by a passport/driving licence. Stop these pathetic trolls making numerous accounts to abuse people. @Twitter @instagram https://t.co/bzow073aTw
— Harry Maguire (@HarryMaguire93) August 20, 2019
The club said: “The individuals who expressed these views do not represent the values of our great club and it is encouraging to see the vast majority of our fans condemn this on social media also.
“Manchester United has zero tolerance of any form of racism or discrimination and a long-standing commitment to campaigning against it through our #AllRedAllEqual initiative.”
England Lionesses manager Phil Neville has also urged players to boycott social media platforms as a form of protest against online abuse and bullying.
Neville said: "I've lost total faith in whoever runs these social media departments, so let's send a powerful message: come off social media (for) six months. Let's see the effect it has on these social media companies."
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