Thierry Henry has deactivated his social media accounts after declaring that the platforms are not taking racist and hateful abuse seriously enough.
This season has seen several high profile Premier League players targeted online, with Arsenal players Eddie Nketiah, Willian, Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin among those to have received hateful comments.
The rise in online abuse saw English football’s authorities unite to call upon Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to do more to combat the issue in a join letter back in February.
And now Henry has joined them in calling on the tech giants to do more to combat the issue, deciding to remove himself from all social media platforms until more is done”
“Hi Guys. From tomorrow morning I will be removing myself from 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,” he said in a statement on his Twitter account.
“The sheer volume of racism, bullying and resulting mental torture to individuals is too toxic to ignore.
“There HAS to be some accountability
“It is far too easy to create an account to use it to bully and harass someone without consequence and still remain anonymous.
“Until this changes I will be disabling my accounts across all social platforms. I am hoping this happens soon.”
The statement echoes the sentiments of Arsenal Chief Executive Vinai Venkatesham who said it was hard to justify to players in the Gunners squad that racist abuse was aloud to stay up on online platforms, while copyrighted content was removed almost immediately.
“How can you explain to a black footballer that if a piece of pirated content goes up on social media it is taken down within minutes, but that is not the same for racist abuse. I don’t know how you explain that?” he said at Financial Times’ Business of Football summit in February.
For their part social media companies have promised to do more with Instagram announcing new measures to help protect its users from online abuse.
However, as things stand they have no intention of taking away the anonymity afforded to their users when they set up an accounts.
Twitter confirmed as much in a statement in the same week Willian suffered racist abuse on social media after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Benfica in the Europa League Round of 32 first leg.
“At Twitter, we are guided by our values, and never more so than when it comes to fundamental issues like identity,” the statement read.
“We believe everyone has the right to share their voice without requiring a government ID to do so.
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“Pseudonymity has been a vital tool for speaking out in oppressive regimes, it is no less critical in democratic societies. Pseudonymity may be used to explore your identity, to find support as victims of crimes, or to highlight issues faced by vulnerable communities.
“Indeed, many of the first voices to speak out on societal wrongdoings, have done so behind some degree of pseudonymity – once they do, their experience can encourage others to do the same, knowing they don’t have to put their name to their experience if they’re not comfortable doing so.