Thierry Henry insists that the time has come for action after turning his back on social media.
As reported by the Mirror’s Darren Lewis, the Arsenal legend has called on the tech giants to do more to combat the issue of racist and hurtful abuse online, after announcing that he has decided to remove himself from all social media platforms until more is done.
Henry told his 2.3million followers on Twitter today that the sheer volume of racism, bullying and resulting mental torture to individuals was “too toxic to ignore”, adding that from tomorrow, he will not be on social media “until the people in power are able to regulate their platforms with the same vigour and ferocity that they currently do when you infringe copyright.”
His decision comes after several high profile Premier League players have been targeted online, with Arsenal players Eddie Nketiah, Willian, Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin among those to have allegedly received hateful comments.
And Henry has now moved to explain his decision further, with the former Gunners striker reiterating the call for social media companies to “deliver.”
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Henry said: “I wanted to take a stand and say that it is an important tool that unfortunately some people have turned into a weapon.
“Sometimes it can be colour, sometimes it can be how you look. Sometimes you can be how you dress.
“There are a lot of issues out there. But I was also thinking: ‘Do I wait or do I do something that I feel strongly about, about my kids, about my community and about what’s happening all there?
“There are people coming out with great statements but how do you stop all those comments going on your platform? How do you stop?
“My way was to come out of it until it’s a safe place.
“I’m not against talking. But at the end of the day, you need to deliver.”
Henry, who lifted two Premier League titles with Arsenal, is not the first high profile figure to take a stand on a key subject, following in the footsteps of NBA star LeBron James, who is leading the fight against social injustice in America, and Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford, whose successful campaign over free meals for school children during the coronavirus pandemic earned widespread praise.
And Henry is hoping that social media will soon be a safer and better place for people from all backgrounds.
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Henry said: “People are suffering. My community is suffering. Children are suffering. Everyone is suffering. We all know someone that has suffered from abuse on social media in some way, shape or form.
“It is a great tool to communicate. We communicate with everybody – your friends, your family. But can it be a safe place?
“Before I took the decision I phoned my sponsors to let them know, out of courtesy. They were very, very supportive about it. They understand what’s happening. Everyone in the world wants a better, you know, better place to express themselves on social media.”