‘It is a big challenge’ – PFA talking to social media giants regarding racist abuse of players

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The recent, vile racist abuse that Wilfried Zaha and David McGoldrick have been subjected to on social media has highlighted once again how far social media companies have to go in order to regulate the users on their sites.

To that end, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) have held talks with social media giants, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to see how to best tackle what has long been the scourge of football.

There’s simply no place for such disgusting invective, and yet anyone, should they be minded to do so, would appear to be able to write what they please on any of those platforms, almost without fear of prosecution.

A 12-year-old boy, according to BBC Sport, was behind the abuse directed at Zaha, which hints at just how deep-rooted the problem is.

Iffy Onuora, the players’ union’s coaching and equalities executive, is in no doubt that there’s a long, long way to go before we get to a place that everyone is happy with.

“There’s an awful lot of work that still needs to be done,” Onuora said, cited by BBC Sport.

“This is just a reminder that there’s an awful lot of work that still needs to be done educationally. It is a big challenge, regarding social media.

“If you compare other media: Print journalism has been around centuries – we have got to a stage where they are regulated. Social media is barely out of its teens. It’s a phenomenon relatively recently in history.

“We’re not looking to close down something that has been a force for good but with anything that has assumed the degree of power that it has now, there’s responsibility with that.

“That all comes with regulation. Unfortunately social media can’t be any different from other media and we need to look at how we do that.

“Colleagues of mine have had conversations with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Those conversations have been broadly supportive of what we’re trying to say. But maybe there is still a slight difference over how we do it and who does the regulating.

“I’m sure, like most companies, they’d like to self-regulate but I think it’s gone beyond that, given the content is still there and accessible.”

Let’s hope that this can be expedited and regulation put it place as soon as practicable.

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