The head of Britain’s communications regulator will pledge to take on social media companies for their failure to eliminate online abuse this week, while condemning their lack of success in dealing with racism targeting three England footballers.
The abuse directed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after missing penalties in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat has drawn a great deal of support for the trio. However, they have also been the target of a number of racist messages and tropes that have plagued their social media accounts.
In her first speech in the episode, Melanie Dawes, Ofcom’s CEO, will make it clear that she will deploy new powers that will be handed over to the agency to force social media companies to act faster. In a keynote address Monday, he claimed that the social media giants’ need for regulation “has become even clearer.”
“Some of our amazing football teams in England were subjected to racist abuse on the main social media platforms,” he will say. “There is no place in our society for racism, whether online or offline, and by their own admission, the platforms did not do enough to eliminate these gruesome comments at a critical national moment. They simply must do much better than this in the future.
“When Ofcom has the power to regulate online safety, we will hold social media platforms accountable for abuses like this. They need to be much more transparent about the rules they have to deal with that, and we will act to make sure those rules are applied correctly. “
Under major changes to the powers it has at its disposal to regulate social media companies, Ofcom is expected to have the ability to fine them for inaction as part of reforms included in an upcoming online security bill. However, prominent figures who have been abused online insists the legislation doesn’t go far enough.
Dawes will warn of a clear distrust of social media companies, adding that “there is no transparency or consistency in the rules and algorithms: how freedom of expression is sustained while addressing and preventing harmful and abusive content from going viral ”. She will add: “By bringing accountability and transparency to this area for the first time, we can protect those great advances while building a safer online life for all.”
It comes after Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Facebook-owned Instagram, admitted last week that the company’s technology had made mistakes, allowing some abusive messages to be posted. Players are understood to have received thousands of separate messages after last Sunday’s loss. The messages included monkey and banana emojis that were still posted days after the game.
Mosseri said its moderator technology had been “mistakenly marking some of these as benign comments, which it is not at all.” He added: “It is absolutely not okay to send racist emojis, or any kind of hate speech, on Instagram.”
Facebook has revealed that it has been working with law enforcement in the UK to provide details of users who have been submitting abuse. Saka has said that he knew he would receive racist messages after missing the penalty. “To the social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: I do not want any child or adult to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I, Marcus and Jadon have received,” he wrote this week. “I knew instantly the kind of hate I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop this. [hate] messages, ”he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism