FA call on social media to introduce account identification to combat online abuse

The English Football Association (FA) has called on social media companies to introduce identification for accounts on their platforms after an increase in online abuse aimed at footballers.

Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt was the latest player to receive racist abuse after he missed a chance late on in the 0-0 draw against Manchester United on Wednesday.

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Footballers Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe (twice) and Lauren James as well as West Bromwich Albion‘s Romaine Sawyers, Chelsea‘s Reece James and Southampton‘s Alex Jankewitz have all been subjected to racist abuse online over the last few months.

Premier League referee Mike Dean also recently received death threats on social media and FA chief executive Mark Bullingham has asked for the platforms to take more responsibility.

“I think any such attack on any official is completely wrong and we stand against any such abuse,” he told Sky Sports. “We’ve been very clear that the social media platforms, in this type of abuse and in racial abuse, should be doing more.

“They should take responsibility that they are the publishers of their content and they, actually, are the only ones that have the technology to act, to prevent it even being published, and to enable the authorities to take swift action when it is.

“They should be doing more and we’re continuing to put pressure on them to do that.”

Last month, the FA joined forces with the Premier League and other footballing bodies to write a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg to demand more action.

A Facebook spokesperson responded to Bullingham’s comments and told Sky Sports: “We do not want discriminatory abuse on Facebook or Instagram and we will remove it when we find it.

“Between October and December last year, we took action on 6.6 million pieces of hate speech content on Instagram, 95% of which we found before anyone reported it to us.

“We work closely with UK law enforcement and respond to all valid legal requests for information in hate speech investigation. We will continue to work with the police and wider industry to collectively tackle this issue.”

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