Mayor urges social media companies to 'remove and prevent hate' after abuse aimed at England players

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (right) in the stands ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match at Wembley Stadium, London.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (right) in the stands ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match in June

Sadiq Khan said social media companies needed to "act immediately" to remove and prevent hate after racist abuse was aimed at England players in their Euro 2020 defeat.

London's Mayor also said anyone behind "disgusting online abuse" must be held accountable.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all missed from the spot on Sunday night as England went down on penalties. The Football Association said it was “appalled” by the abuse. Their social media pages were quickly flooded with racist comments.

Facebook – which also owns Instagram – said it tries to remove harmful content as quickly as possible and encouraged people to use the tools it offers to block abuse.

“No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram,” a Facebook company spokesperson said.

“We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules.

“In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs.

“No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.”

Twitter said it had proactively removed more than 1,000 posts over the past 24 hours which violated its policy and also taken swift action to permanently suspend a number of accounts.

“The abhorrent racist abuse directed at England players last night has absolutely no place on Twitter,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement to the PA news agency.

“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.”