Instagram vows strong action after racist abuse of Premier League stars

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Feb 10, 2021, 08.09 PM(IST)

Instagram vows strong action after racist abuse of Premier League stars Photograph:( AFP )

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Social media platform Instagram on Wednesday announced new measures in an attempt to tackle online abuses following a series of "horrifying” racist attacks on Premier League footballers. The likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe from Manchester United, as well as Chelsea's Reece James have been subjected to online abuses in recent weeks. 

Social media platform Instagram on Wednesday announced new measures in an attempt to tackle online abuses following a series of "horrifying” racist attacks on Premier League footballers. The likes of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe from Manchester United, as well as Chelsea's Reece James have been subjected to online abuses in recent weeks. 

The photo-blogging platform said that it would remove accounts sending abusive messages.  

Fadzai Madzingira, content policy manager at Instagram's parent company Facebook, told Britain's Press Association news agency she was "horrified" at the vitriol directed at footballers.  

"Currently, we will set a specific ban or what we call a block for a set amount of time when someone violates those rules and we extend that time should they continue to do so," she said. 

"What we're announcing today is that we're taking tougher measures on people who violate those rules in Instagram direct messaging, so instead of just extending the time, we'll be removing the accounts altogether. 

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"That allows us to ensure that we have a lower tolerance for that sort of abuse in direct messaging and we'll be closing those accounts more quickly in Instagram direct messaging than anywhere else on the platform." 

 The abuse hasn't been limited to private messages as players are witnessing loads of monkey emoticons and racist terms in the comment section of their respective posts.  

A number of similar accounts have been used for sending abuses, something Madzingira says Instagram continues to work on. However, she pointed to comment filters that can block specific words, phrases and emojis from appearing.  

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"I think there is something about the world that we're living in where someone can go from throwing a banana peel at a player on the pitch to suddenly also waking up and opening their accounts and using this online," she said. 

"What we're trying to address is the online aspect but there's definitely a broader conversation we need to have about what does racism in sport look like and how do we stop that sort of behaviour?" 

Instagram said that it took immediate action on 6.5 million pieces of hate speech, including direct messages between July and September 2020.  

The Football Association (FA) has called for action from the British government to tackle the issue on priority. 

"As a company, we've been really open," Madzingira said. "We want to have these conversations with governments. We want to be talking about regulation." 

(From AFP inputs) 

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