Racist abuse of England footballers remains online three days on

Twitter has not removed racist abuse targeting England stars despite the content having been reported to the channel (Picture: EPA, file images)

Twitter has not removed racist abuse targeting England stars despite the content having been reported to the channel (Picture: EPA / Twitter)

Twitter and Instagram have failed to remove racist messages on their platforms despite the posts being reported over several days.

Targeted abuse aimed at footballers – including one that has been live for three years – remained on the websites this afternoon.

The social media platforms have been criticised for failing to react quickly enough to abuse aimed particularly at Marcus Rashford, Jaydon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.

On Instagram, just six out of 106 accounts reported for abuse were removed, according to the Centre for Countering Digital Hate.

The prime minister met with social media companies at Downing Street last night where he called on social media giants to take action over the online abuse across their platforms.

In the hours beforehand, tweets abusing the trio, as well as fellow England star Raheem Stirling, were still online despite having obvious keywords.

The content on Twitter was flagged as offensive by Metro.co.uk via the channel’s online reporting mechanism but was still online more than 12 hours later. One post was dated from 2019.

Many believe that social media firms should be more proactive in detecting and deleting such material.

Leroy Rosenior, a former footballer and coach told Sky News: ‘When I go to buy something and I click on something, if I buy a sofa, for the next three weeks I get sofas from everywhere. They know exactly what I’m doing, exactly what I’m trying to do, so those algorithms can certainly identify and make sure they know who is going on social media, at what time and what they’re saying, and that certainly can be policed.

‘It shouldn’t be for the Metropolitan Police to use their time to track these people down when the people who are in charge of those platforms have all the tools to do that themselves.’

A Stand Up to Racism demonstration at the Marcus Rashford mural after it was defaced following the Euro 2020 final (Picture: Reuters)

Other suggestions to tackle online abuse include social media companies verifying all accounts by asking new users to provide ID.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has pledged ‘tough new laws’ to make platforms clamp down on racism.

Fines would be issued to the web giants if they failed to take action under the Online Safety Bill, which was published in a draft form earlier this year.

In another move, the Government is changing the football banning order regime to cover online racism, according to the PM.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions today, Boris Johnson said he ‘utterly condemns and abhors’ the racist abuse received by the players.

Mr Johnson told MPs he met representatives from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter at Downing Street.

He said: ‘I made it absolutely clear to them that we will legislate to address this problem Mr Speaker in the Online Harms Bill and unless they get hate and racism off their platforms they will face fines amounting to 10% of their global revenues. We all know that they have the technology to do it.’

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins also addressed the issue of social media in the House of Commons today as she answered questions on behalf of home secretary Priti Patel.

Mr Atkins told MPs: ‘Any company would be very wise to set out what it plans to do in relation to meeting the expectations of this place and the public when it comes to conducting their systems in a way that is clear and prevents the sorts of abuse that we have seen this weekend.’

Racist abuse of England stars still online despite being reported

One of the hateful messages which was reported to Twitter but remained online more than 12 hours later (Picture: Twitter/Metro.co.uk)

Yvette Cooper had been among MPs expressing concern, saying: ‘Speed matters, can the minister tell me what the Online Safety Bill is going to do to take action on this speed issue and to penalise companies for not moving fast enough, because at the moment it looks as though that action won’t happen, which is unacceptable. Keyboard cowards are being given a megaphone by these social media companies and it has to stop.’

Mrs Atkins replied: ‘I don’t think these tech companies quite understand the anger and frustration of everyone involved in trying to scrutinise and to hold these companies to account.’

Earlier this week, Twitter said: ‘The abhorrent racist abuse last night has absolutely no place on Twitter.

‘In the past 24 hours, through a combination of machine learning based automation and human review, we have swiftly removed over 1,000 Tweets and permanently suspended a number of accounts for violating our rules – the vast majority of which we detected ourselves proactively using technology. We will continue to take action when we identify any Tweets or accounts that violate our policies.

‘We have proactively engaged and continue to collaborate with our partners across the football community to identify ways to tackle this issue collectively and will continue to play our part in curbing this unacceptable behaviour – both online and offline.’

Marcus Rashford was targeted by racist trolls after missing a penalty in the Euro 2020 final but has had widespread support afterwards (Picture: Reuters)

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has said it ‘quickly removed comments and accounts’ which had targeted the England players.

A spokesperson for Instagram told the i newspaper: ‘We use technology to help us review and remove harmful content, but we know these systems aren’t perfect, and we’re constantly working to improve.

‘Since Sunday’s final, we’ve been removing comments and disabling accounts that repeatedly break our rules, and we’ll continue to do so.’

Metro.co.uk has approached Twitter and the DCMS for comment.

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