Sunderland AFC’s two leading fan-media entities are coming together in a show of support to the football club.
We all recognise that we can do more to combat online hate, and that we too ought to be more mindful of what we do and say as we go about our daily business online.
The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and the FSA will unite for a social media boycott from 3pm on Friday 30 April to 23:59pm on Monday 3rd of May, in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.
The boycott - which is a show of solidarity between those in the game - is aimed at highlighting what is becoming a massive problem, and that social media companies need to do more in order to combat online hate.
This is scheduled to take place the full fixture programme this week in both the men's and women’s professional game, with all of those clubs agreeing to turn off their social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
We encourage the Sunderland supporters to back this campaign and help to spread the message for what is a cause that may well have affected all of us online at some stage.
In a statement on SAFC.com, the club wrote:
In our letter of February 2021, English football outlined its requests of social media companies, urging filtering, blocking and swift takedowns of offensive posts, an improved verification process and re-registration prevention, plus active assistance for law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute originators of illegal content. While some progress has been made, we reiterate those requests today in an effort to stem the relentless flow of discriminatory messages and ensure that there are real-life consequences for purveyors of online abuse across all platforms.
Boycott action from football in isolation will, of course, not eradicate the scourge of online discriminatory abuse, but it will demonstrate that the game is willing to take voluntary and proactive steps in this continued fight.
Finally, while football takes a stand, we urge the UK Government to ensure its Online Safety Bill will bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms, as discussed at the DCMS Online Abuse roundtable earlier this week.
Trevor Birch, Chief Executive of the EFL said: “EFL clubs have expressed a clear desire to take a united stand against abhorrent racist, discriminatory, and threatening abuse on social media platforms which we fully support alongside the rest of the football family. While we recognise the value and role social media plays in our game, online abuse will not be tolerated and we will continue to strongly pursue all avenues open to us to affect change. The boycott is only part of the work being undertaken in this area but further highlights the need for social media companies to take additional responsibility for the inappropriate and unwelcome behaviour that appears on their platforms.”