Soccer-British football faces global nature of online hate

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File Photo: Soccer Soccer-Euro 2020-Final-Italy v England-Wembley Stadium, London, UK-July 11, 2021 England’s Marcus Rashford during Reuters / Frank Augustine / File Photo Penalty Shootout Pool looks disheartened after missing a penalty

July 13, 2021

Simon evans

Manchester (Reuters) – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with social media companies on Tuesday over racial abuse against UK footballers online, but focuses on industry action. global nature of the issue.

Experts in the field of online abuse highlight the problem of fake accounts, and experts in online threats and intelligence are strategic and targeted, designed to undermine the social cohesion and reputation of the UK. He said there is a potential risk to the campaign.

Twitter and Instagram declined to discuss the locations of banned accounts in the fallout from the Euro 2020 final on Sunday. Later, three Black England players who missed a penalty for a shootout loss to Italy were subjected to racist abuse online.

However, data from previous surveillance by various agencies shows that many attacks are coming from outside the UK.

Premier League player abuse monitoring data shows around 70% of cases are linked to abuse by social media users outside the UK, league sources told Reuters on Tuesday .

England manager Gareth Southgate noticed this aspect on Monday when he accused Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka of the abuse.

“Some of them are really unacceptable to be abused. I know a lot of them come from abroad. People who follow these things can explain it. But not all, ”he said.

There is evidence that racial abuse of football players on social media is occurring around the world.

Abuse around the world

A tariff network that monitors and campaigns against racism and discrimination in football called for an investigation into Champions League and Europa League games last August, involving European clubs such as Britain’s Manchester United and Manchester City. Did.

“The abuse is global, with testimonies from Indonesia to Argentina leveling out racism and homophobia among gamers. The most discriminatory posts were in French and Spanish, followed by English. Continued, ”the report said.

With online vandalism and abusers around the world, it is difficult for the Football Association (FA) and other organizations to be prosecuted.

“Even if you are able to pursue something more with law enforcement, it becomes more difficult due to the challenges of laws, rules, regulations and various transnational laws.” Edleen said. John, director of FA’s co-partners in international affairs, business, equality, diversity and inclusion, told Reuters.

What adds to the complexity, according to John, is the fact that some users use proxy servers and VPNs to hide their real location and IP address.

“It was a constant and ongoing challenge to try to defeat some of the aggressors,” she said.

Premier League clubs such as Manchester United regularly have to respond to abusive messages sent to players online, and since Sunday more than 50 social media accounts have been reported to the platform, police and the Premier League. I go.

Some online abuse experts are also considering using anonymous accounts, automatic accounts called “bots” and accounts designed only to cause trouble, or “trolls.” ..

“Illegal account”

Christopher Bouzy of Bot Sentinel, a US-based organization that tracks and monitors harmful social media accounts, has investigated the abuse of England players Sancho, Rashford and Saka.

“When I looked at all three players, I found some fake and fraudulent accounts, but what was it really, what was the account there to raise the issue. It will take a few days to actually see it, ”he told Reuters. They added that they couldn’t find evidence of a coordinated campaign against the players.

Philip Grindell, CEO of Defuse, a threats and intelligence consultant who works with high profile victims of targeted harm, not only takes concrete steps to identify and prosecute criminals, but also abuses them. He said that you have to take into account that some of them can be adjusted.

“It is important to keep in mind that the strategic use of social media targets can undermine the UK in terms of social cohesion and undermine its reputation and economic opportunities,” he said.

The Premier League have managed to secure the prosecution of a 19-year-old in Singapore after abusing Brighton & Hove Albion striker Neal Maupay last month. It was the first time the league had been sentenced outside the UK.

Twitter said in a statement Monday that it had deleted more than 1,000 tweets in the wake of the Euro 2020 final and permanently suspended a number of accounts for breaking the rules.

Facebook, which also owns Instagram, has removed comments and accounts that abuse English players, and said it will continue to do so.

The platform said it has a “Hidden Words” tool which “means you don’t have to see abuse in comments or DMs.”

Football officials and activists have urged social media companies to take action to prevent the abuse from being made public in the first place.

“These are multi-billion dollar organizations with critical resources and technical capabilities, so the challenge certainly needs to be able to channel those resources… to be able to act even faster than they are today. “To do it,” FA’s John said.

(Report by Simon Evans; edited by Toby Davis)

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