Social media boycott statement
Leeds Beckett University and its Carnegie School of Sport together with Leeds Beckett Students’ Union will join a four-day boycott of social media platforms from 15:00 Friday 30 April – 23:59 Monday 3 May to combat online discrimination and abuse.
This is in union with English Football clubs, the Premier League, The FA, the Kick It Out organisation and a number of sporting charities and organisations.
We stand with the footballing community in voicing our concerns at the growing levels of abuse received by players and many other individuals involved in football (as well as other sports). We share the urgency of footballing authorities, clubs, and organisations that more must be done to stop online discrimination; we must take an active stand to push for change and initiate action.
All of us have a responsibility to create inclusive and safe environments for our players, coaches, fans, and others connected to football. By joining the boycott of social media platforms, it is hoped that this symbolic gesture sends the clear message that more must be done to combat online hate-speech in sport.
Football, like every other sport, should be a safe and inclusive space for everyone regardless of origin or background. The Carnegie School of Sport as part of Leeds Beckett University actively challenges discrimination in sport everyday through our teaching and research.
We work daily alongside our footballing partners, from participants, to players, to clubs, to governing bodies to support and develop the sport. By joining the boycott, we are publicly taking a stand against ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse in football. We support the footballing community in taking proactive steps in this battle against prejudice.
Online abuse and discrimination through social media are growing and frequent problems. Insight and tracking of football-related discrimination on social media shows a year-on-year increase in abuse.
Most of this is centred on race and gender, along with other forms of discrimination including that which is related to disability and sexual orientation. Our own university research has demonstrated that the different nature of online communication can lead to disinhibition and therefore, encourage hate speech (Kilvington & Price, 2017).
On some social media platforms that offer anonymity, this can lead in increases in abusive messages. By removing ourselves from social media during the four-day boycott, we are standing in unison with the football community to ask social media platforms to do more and act more quickly and for the government to regulate through the Online Safety Bill.
The emphasis must be on action and accountability from social media companies, and consequences for those who perpetrate such abuse. Online discrimination, as with all other forms of discrimination, must be addressed and stopped.
To do this, we must see an urgent improvement in policies and processes needed to tackle these issues. Football, like other sports, is a uniting force and diversity is a key mechanism by which we can realise success in the sport. Therefore, we are taking this active stand with the footballing community against online abuse and discrimination.