October 23, 2021

Mings: Football may have to boycott social media as last resort

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Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings says everyone in football – including the clubs – will have to join Thierry Henry in boycotting social media if companies do not begin proactively tackling abuse on their platforms.

Mings supports Henry’s decision to come off social media, but “would like to think that would be a last resort because nobody wants to and nobody should ever have to”.

Although the England international hopes it does not come to a football-wide social media blackout, he says it may take a drop in profits for these companies to pay attention to the pleas for change.

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“I think it might get to a stage where the only alternative, if social media companies aren’t doing enough, is that we show unity and all come off and by all I mean the clubs as well,” Mings told Sky Sports News.

“If the club’s aren’t posting anything, the fans have nothing to engage with unfortunately and obviously these social media platforms are engagement driven and viewer driven.

“But how do you make your point heard? How do you get people to take you seriously? Sometimes you have to hit those companies where it hurts and that’s in their profit and their engagement.

“Who knows maybe it might get to that one day, I hope it doesn’t, I hope they are proactive in dealing with online abuse, but I certainly respect what Thierry Henry has done.”

‘Social media and online abuse is killing people’

Mings is among a group of former and current footballers who held talks with the government in January on efforts to tackle rising levels of abuse and discrimination within the game.

The government aims to introduce new laws aimed at tackling online hate by holding social media organisations to account.

The Online Harms Bill, which is due to come before parliament this year, will require technology companies to treat online abuse the same as discrimination in the street and within football stadia and punish organisations if they breach online duty of care rules.

Mings accepts change can be slow, but is urging social media companies to protect everyone on social media.

“Social media and online abuse is genuinely killing people, people are committing suicide because of what they’re seeing, what they’re receiving and the perception that they’re gaining based on what other people are telling them they are on social media,” said the defender.

“Online abuse is so rife and so horrible because it is personal, you have to either respond to what someone said or go out of your way to tag someone in a tweet and write quite derogatory words to them.

“People often say, ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem’, and if these companies aren’t doing anything proactively to try and fix that then people will have to act differently and try and come off social media.

“There has to be more that can be done and people have to be held accountable for the platforms that they allow people to say these things on. I understand it’s a process, and we’re not there yet but there has to be greater strides towards protecting players and people in general on social media.”

Social media: The response

Facebook owns photo and video sharing social network service Instagram
Image: Facebook owns photo and video sharing social network service Instagram

Twitter and Facebook, which owns Instagram, have introduced new measures to tackle discriminatory abuse on their platforms in recent months.

Facebook says it acted on 6.6m pieces of hate speech content on Instagram between October and December last year, 95 per cent of which they found before anyone reported it to them.

Social media companies say millions of people around the world do not have access to official forms of identification and requiring ID to create an account would exclude them from their platforms.

Twitter and Facebook have representatives in an online hate working group, which was convened by Kick It Out and includes the Football Association.

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