Facebook “shocked” by online harassment of footballers – Fadzai Madzingira, head of content policy, in conversation with sports editor Dan Roan
Facebook says it is “appalled” by the harassment of online gamers and has announced what it sees as tougher measures to combat the problem.
The social media platform is changing the rules for direct messaging on Instagram, a platform it also owns.
This will close the accounts of those who repeatedly send offensive personal messages on Instagram.
Fadzai Madzingira, head of content policy in the UK, said it was “sad” to see the abuse continue on the platforms.
Mazingira told Sport, “I am appalled by the kind of abuse that people, especially these footballers, have to endure, regardless of race, religion or gender, and as a company we are disappointed that this kind of behavior that occurs outside the game is also seen on our platform.
“That’s why today we are announcing a tougher crackdown on accounts that violate our community standards and goals in Instagram’s direct messages. ”
A number of Premier League players, including Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Axel Tuanzebe, West Brom’s Reece James, Chelsea FC and his sister, Manchester United striker Lauren James, have been victims of offensive online posts in recent weeks.
The Football Association called on the government to act, which has since said that social media companies could face “heavy fines” of “billions of pounds” if they do not tackle abuse on their platforms.
When asked by sports editor Dan Roan if Facebook would allow such abuse, Mazingira replied, “No, that would mean it would be inaccurate.”
“I think platforms like ours allow communities of people to communicate about the things they like. If we’re going to talk about hate, it shouldn’t be on a stage.”
What’s going to change on Instagram?
Former and current footballers are asking users of social media platforms to provide verification documents when creating their accounts so that they can be more effectively prosecuted if they break the rules.
According to Facebook, this will prove difficult to implement in communities where such material is not available.
“If we insisted on using data from government ID cards or passports, we would be denying access to the very people who use our platforms to build communities, so we deliberately allow access,” Madzingira continued.
The company claims to have “taken action” in 6.5 million cases of hate speech on Instagram between July and September last year, including direct messages that are more difficult to deliver to police due to privacy rules.
“Starting today, if someone violates Instagram’s direct messaging rules, we will institute a ban or suspension for a period of time and extend that period if they continue to violate the rules,” Madzingira said.
“Today we are announcing that we will now delete these accounts if they continue to violate Instagram’s direct messaging rules.”
Facebook said it did not want to specify the number of violations that would result in removal because violators could use this information to “game the system.”
“We are a small part of the solution.
Facebook said it is “doing its best to combat hate and racism on our platform,” but added that “there are more problems out there than we are.”
Some users have called for a ban on certain emojis often used in racist messages, but Madzingira has spoken out against banning symbols that can be used innocently in other contexts.
She also said that filters can be used to prevent others from leaving offensive comments on posts, and that work is also underway to prevent banned users from opening new accounts.
Asked whether Facebook prioritizes profit over fighting abuse, Ms. Mazingira replied, “I think that would be an inaccurate assessment.
“Because if people don’t feel safe on the platform, they can’t be there.”
“We recognize that it is everyone’s responsibility to address this problem and we want to do our part. The frustration these players feel is justified – it’s revolting how they’re being insulted.
“Police need more help from social media.”
Mark Little – the target of a racist post on social media that is being investigated by police – said he was surprised that platform administrators are only now responding.
He said, “I’m glad they’re making changes, but it’s kind of confusing to me because what they announced is what I had assumed before.”
“They go to a standard rather than what I think is acceptable for what is going on.”
Small, 32, added that “a big company like Facebook should be able to set a precedent for what happens in society as a whole” and that “police need more help from social media.”
He added, “I don’t think it will be that difficult to identify the people who are doing this.”
“Everyone has to have some kind of identification to be able to use these platforms, and I think that will eradicate a very large portion of the abuses.”
“More needs to be done to eradicate violence.”
Oliver Dowden, Minister of Culture, welcomed the tougher measures, but stressed that “racist abuse is still a reality for too many people and more needs to be done to eradicate it.”
He added: “For too long, the world’s most popular and influential social media companies have failed to confront the barrage of horrific racist attacks on their platforms.
“We are ushering in a new era of accountability for these companies with our cybersecurity bill, which could result in heavy fines for companies that fail to protect their users in a clear and transparent manner.
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