Social media companies must do more to stop discriminatory abuse online

Author GoBubble

In an interview this week with Sky Sports, FA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Director Edleen John expressed a sense of urgency for social media companies to do more to prevent widespread discriminatory abuse online.

The problem has been most apparent in the world of football, where in the last two weeks alone Manchester United players Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe and Lauren James have all been subjected to racism online. This is part of a growing societal trend of footballers and others being targeted.

In a PFA Charity study published last year that analysed 825,515 tweets directed at a selected group of players, it was found that “43% of Premier League players in the study experienced targeted and explicitly racist abuse.” The study also found that Twitter’s algorithms failed to detect and stop abusive posts sent via emoji.

Social media companies and other online platforms must do more or face new government regulation. Oliver Dowden, Member of Parliament for Hertsmere and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport tweeted Sunday evening: “We are going to change the law to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms and they can start showing their duty of care to players today by weeding out racist abuse now.”

Yesterday, Instagram announced new measures, including the removal of accounts to prevent abusive messages. It is yet to be seen how other platforms will follow suit but the pressure from government and society is increasing on them to do more.

The ability to positively change behaviour through dynamic content moderation already exists. At GoBubble, we’ve created GoBubbleWrap, a SaaS API that enables developers to check content (text, emoji, photo, video, audio) before it appears. Through its work in supporting child-centred communities, we have seen an improvement in online behaviour over time as well as teachers and parents saying they have seen a reduction in offline bullying and an improvement in empathy. 

If you would like to learn more about how GoBubble can help, please get in touch!

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