North East clubs back social media boycott to tackle online racism

Video report by Julia Barthram

The region's leading football clubs have united to join other English clubs in boycotting social media for four days in bid to tackle online racism.

The aim of the protest is to put more pressure on the owners of popular digital platforms to work harder to eradicate online hate.

The FA, The Premier League, The EFL, The Women’s Super League and Championship, Women in Football, Kick it Out, the Football Supporters Association and the organisations representing managers, match officials and players will all turn off their digital feeds at 3pm on Friday, April 30.

Sunderland stated "enough is enough" as members of the club look toward the boycott.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said he hoped the protest would "highlight the urgent need for social media companies to do more in eliminating racial hatred".

We will not stop challenging social media companies and want to see significant improvements in their policies and processes to tackle online discriminatory abuse on their platforms.

Richard Masters, Premier League Chief Executive

The action is welcomed by Show Racism the Red Card, which has worked for 25 years to try and eliminate racism in society.

It's almost a daily occurrence and what we see is the abuse targeted at high profile players but it's something that happens every single day, that we don't see, to ordinary people. This isn't just a social media thing, this is in society, social media is a reflection of society but the companies need to be doing more to tackle this on their platforms. I think everyone involved knows it's not going to end racism but maybe it'll be a wake up call to the social media companies.

Raj Murria, Show Racism the Red Card

  • What changes are hoped to be made?

Filtering, blocking and swift removals 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. 

The protest is also encouraging the UK government to ensure that legislation introduced in the Online Safety Bill makes social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms.

It follows a chaotic week of headlines for major league football, after all six English clubs in the European Super League withdrew from plans to participate in the breakaway "Super League" competition.