FOOTBALL authorities have held their first serious all-party meeting with social media giants to combat online hate as Anton Ferdinand demanded they be held to account.
Anti-racism leaders Kick It Out convened the gathering of the game’s senior organisations.
Facebook and Twitter were invited to the talk alongside the Premier League, PFA, FA, EFL and LMA.
Former West Ham defender Ferdinand told the meeting: “As footballers we are held accountable for our actions all the time – why aren’t the people that are sending abuse, and the social media platforms, held to account too?
“I had no escape from being racially abused, whether that was on the streets or social media.
“The ripple effect the abuse had on me and my family, I wouldn’t want anyone else to experience that.”
The social media companies agreed to take steps to ensure a zero tolerance policy on online hate and abuse.
As part of a set of “common principles” the parties confirmed that “discrimination, hate and abuse towards those who play, support or work in the game is totally unacceptable”.
That includes “real-world consequences” for those who use online platforms to spread abuse with the determination to make perpetrators be “accountable for their actions”.
Outside bodies involved were UK Football Policing Unit, Women in Football, Crown Prosecution Service, Home Office and Sky, with further meetings to be held every two months.
Online discriminatory abuse is unacceptable and tackling this issue must be a priority for football and social media companies.
Kick it Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari said: “Online hate thrives because there is a culture of impunity.
“People feel free to say what they want because they are confident there will be no consequences. That must change.”
Prem chief executive Richard Masters added: “Online discriminatory abuse is unacceptable and tackling this issue must be a priority for football and social media companies.
“Sadly, there are too many instances of footballers and their families receiving horrific discriminatory messages and nobody should have to deal with this.
“The Premier League welcomes this initiative as a means of persuading social media companies to remove offensive material swiftly and help the Premier League and law enforcement bodies identify perpetrators.”
Twitter and Facebook appear to recognise their responsibilities.
Between June and September last year were able to find 95% of the hate speech content and removed it before anyone reported it.
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Facebook’s Jerry Newman said: “We don’t want racism or any type of hate speech on Facebook or Instagram.
“Over the last few years, we’ve tripled the size of our safety and security team and between June and September last year were able to find 95 per cent of the hate speech content and removed it before anyone reported it. We won’t stop there.”
Katy Minshall of Twitter added: “Racist behaviour has no place on Twitter and we strongly condemn it.
“We continue to collaborate closely with our partners in football to identify ways to tackle this issue collectively.”