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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Sport community complete social media boycott

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The sport community will hope its four-day social media boycott to tackle online abuse and discrimination will have the desired impact after it came to an end on Monday night.

The Ladies European Tour (LET) were amongst the organisations to stand alongside the football community and many other sporting institutions taking part in the social media boycott from 15:00 Friday 30 April to 23:59 on Monday 3 May.

The LET hoped their presence would help amplify its message that nobody should have to suffer abuse, racism or harassment on social media because they compete or are involved in professional sport.

Alexandra Armas, LET CEO, said: “We recognise the positive influence that social media plays in sport, in connecting fanbases with their heroes and growing global audiences.

“However, it is unacceptable that our members and anyone associated with the Tour can be targeted through these platforms with appalling abuse, without any consequences. We stand united with other sports in a unified silence and helping to highlight that more must be done in eradicating online discriminatory abuse.”

Premier League football club Aston Villa hope the boycott has sent a powerful message that abuse won’t be tolerated.

“We have sent a powerful and united message,” Villa posted on their Twitter page. “We sincerely hope the message is heard, understood and positive changes are made. Thank you for your support.”

Manchester United posted: “Zero tolerance, all of the time. Our commitment to combatting online abuse will always continue. Nobody should suffer from any form of racist abuse or discrimination. Enough is enough.”

The culture of online abuse is rife across social media platforms and goes much further than the world of sport. The online “troll” is a cancer on society that has led to many high-profile names taking their own lives at the hands of such abuse and it needs to be cured.

Social media users should be held accountable for their actions online. If each user had to sign up and verify their identity with a passport or driver’s licence, then they might be hesitant to post some of the filth regularly spewed against their own names. If it’s not something you’d be willing to say to someone’s face, what makes it suddenly OK to type in on Twitter?

Right now, faceless users are given free rein to post what they like with little consequence and until platforms like Twitter regulate its users, little will change. The culture of cowards behind keyboards is something social media users will encounter daily. It has pushed many celebrities and sports stars, including the likes of Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy, away from their own social media channels and thus, further from their own fans.

Celebrity accounts these days are nothing more than PR generated marketing tools and who could blame the likes of Lowry and McIlroy for handing them over considering just how unsocial some of the comments are about our two finest golfers?

It will take a lot more than a four-day boycott to solve all the issues on social media but it’s a start, and something we can all help to eradicate.

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