Why our writers will join social media boycott
English football will switch off from social media today and over the Bank Holiday weekend in a stand of solidarity against discrimination.
From 3pm today until 11.59pm on Monday, the EFL, FA, Premier League, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and the Football
Supporters’ Association are to boycott Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
We strongly support the stance taken by the various football authorities and wish to reinforce the message that, while criticism always has a part to play in freedom of speech, online abuse is NEVER acceptable.
It is for that reason our sports team in the North West will join the boycott this weekend.
We stand united with football. Our titles – the Lancashire Post, Blackpool Gazette, Wigan Post, Burnley Express and Morecambe Visitor – and our sports writers will participate in the boycott.
It means there will be no live tweeting or posting by reporters during the boycott period, including from the matches we cover this weekend.
Our websites will still carry the usual coverage of our clubs, with live blogs from games, match reports and reaction from players, managers and supporters.
However, those stories will not be signposted or linked to on social media platforms until the boycott ends on Monday night.
As a sportsdesk, we wholeheartedly support football in their boycott – the abuse must stop.
Minds need to be concentrated on the subject, the tech companies need to be far more effective in their policing on their platforms.
A round of football fixtures doesn’t seem to pass by without a footballer getting online abuse, based on his colour of skin.
The vast majority of social media users are good, honest people who are disgusted when they see such abuse.
However, little seems to be done to track down those who lurk behind a keyboard or their phone and dish out hurtful and discriminatory abuse on social media.
There needs to be more accountability – and punishment – for those who spew their vile thoughts in the public domain.
They shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind faceless accounts which can easily be set up and then deleted to avoid detection.
Those who use social media properly and get much enjoyment from it might feel they are being caught up in something which they have no control of, and feel they are being punished by not being able to follow their favourite football team via social media platforms.
We understand that viewpoint and sympathise.
However, over this weekend we must look at the broader picture and hope the impact helps to make social media a more enjoyable environment for everyone.
Peter Storey, North West