Barcelona’s Lionel Messi joins social media boycott and demands action against online trolls

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Lionel Messi joins social media boycott of football demanding action against online trolls … as Facebook again accused of ignoring discrimination after refusing to act when Premier League star was sent monkey emojis

  • Barcelona star Lionel Messi has expressed support for the boycott on social media
  • Facebook, which owns Instagram, has been accused of refusing to act against abuse
  • A Premier League player was abused and sent a series of monkey emojis
  • However, the club was told it did not violate Facebook’s community rules

Lionel Messi has been instrumental in the social media boycott of British football, urging major platforms to take immediate action against perpetrators of online abuse.

It’s because Facebook, which owns Instagram, was again accused of ignoring discrimination after it emerged that the social media giant declined to respond to a report of racism from a Premier League club.

Football converged this weekend in a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter blackout, including Premier League and Football League clubs and players, as well as FIFA, UEFA and broadcasters BT Sport and Sky Sports, in an effort to put pressure on the social media companies to do more to halt the rise of abuse.

Lionel Messi has campaigned for the social media boycott of British football this weekend

It's because Facebook was once again accused of condoning discrimination

It’s because Facebook was once again accused of condoning discrimination

The Mail on Sunday has been told that a Premier League club reported to Facebook last week, through a company that helped them monitor their social media channels for abuse, that one of their players had been targeted, including a series of monkey emojis.

The club was told it did not violate Facebook’s community rules. It wasn’t until they asked the Premier League to report it on their behalf again that Facebook removed the emojis. The offending account no longer exists. The club has asked Facebook why they did not take action in the first instance, but there is no response yet.

Barcelona star Messi is the seventh most followed person on Instagram in the world, urging his 200 million followers on Saturday night to demand action on social media companies.

A Premier League player was given monkey emojis, but his club was told the abuse did not violate Facebook's community rules

A Premier League player was given monkey emojis, but his club was told the abuse did not violate Facebook’s community rules

‘I believe the moment has come when we realize that behind every profile there is a person of flesh and blood, someone who laughs, cries, enjoys, suffers, people with feelings.

‘Nobody deserves to be mistreated or insulted. We see and experience increasing abuse on social media and no one is doing anything to prevent it.

“We must condemn this hostility as strongly as possible and demand that the social media networks take urgent action against this behavior.”

Messi paid credit to English football for starting the movement, adding: ‘I would like the 200 million people who join me online to become 200 million reasons to make social media a safe place of respect. we can share what we want without fear of being insulted or facing racism, abuse and discrimination. ‘

Barcelona star Messi is the seventh most followed person on Instagram in the world

Barcelona star Messi is the seventh most followed person on Instagram in the world

Messi paid credit to English football for starting the social media blackout movement

Messi paid credit to English football for starting the social media blackout movement

Increasing pressure is forcing Facebook to take action. After conversations with players, they introduce a tool that filters all direct message requests on Instagram that contain offensive words, phrases and emojis. They also plan to make it more difficult for someone who has blocked a player from contacting them again through a new account.

A Facebook spokesperson told The Mail on Sunday: ‘No one should be abusive anywhere, and it is against our policy to harass or discriminate against people on Instagram or Facebook. We’ve already made progress with many of the players’ suggestions, including taking tougher action against people breaking our rules in DMs [direct messages].

Starting next week, we will be offering new tools to prevent people from seeing offensive messages from strangers. We will continue to work with the UK police on hate speech and to respond to valid legal requests for information, which may be essential for investigations.

‘We will continue to listen to feedback and continue to fight hate and racism on our platform.

SOCIAL MEDIA BLACKOUT – WHO IS INVOLVED?

American football

The sport’s authorities started boycott plans last Saturday night, in response to a rising wave of online hatred targeting players, managers and experts.

Premier League, EFL, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship clubs will shut down their accounts.

The central accounts of the governing bodies – such as those of the Premier League, the Football Association, the WSL, the EFL, the Professional Football Association, the League Managers Association and the Football Supporters’ Association, are also involved, as are anti-discrimination bodies Kick It Out and Show Racism The Red Card.

Scottish football clubs and governing bodies have now also pledged to support the boycott.

Cricket

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Wednesday that it, the 18 first-class counties, the eight regional women’s teams and the Professional Cricketers’ Association are joining the boycott.

Rugby Union

The Rugby Football Union is in solidarity with the football and cricket authorities, and the bills for England Rugby, the Allianz Premier 15s, the Championship and GB7s will suspend all activities, it was confirmed on Thursday. Clubs in the Gallagher Premiership announced they were boycotting social media the day before, with the support of the Rugby Players’ Association.

Tennis

The Lawn Tennis Association announced on Monday its intention to rally behind football in support of the boycott.

Sponsors

Sportswear giant Adidas – which produces over a third of its Premier League kits – is stopping all ads on its platforms. Barclays, which sponsors the WSL, will support the blackout, with no social media posts on the Barclays Football pages of Facebook and Instagram, nor on the Barclays Footy Twitter account, while the company’s other social channels cover all football related activities will avoid.

England football team sponsor Budweiser has signed up, while online car dealer Cazoo – which sponsors Everton and Aston Villa – became the first major sponsor to announce Tuesday that it would support the boycott.

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