In what has to be seen as one of the most controversial and shocking moves made by any social media enterprise, both Facebook and Twitter have resisted calls by football authorities in England to block or censor abusive messages sent to players and staff within the game.
Referee Mike Dean and his family have been subjected to death threats online, as have Newcastle manager, Steve Bruce and his Arsenal counterpart, Mikel Arteta.
Despite that and the racist abuse received by the likes of Man United’s Axel Tuanzebe, Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and former Arsenal man, Ian Wright, amongst many, many others, the social media giants have said that to stop the messages would be an infringement of their user’s free speech and bring an unacceptable level of censorship, according to the Daily Mail.
It’s an astonishing dereliction of duty, and buck passing to the most extraordinary degree.
This isn’t likely to be the end of it from the football stakeholder’s point of view, though if they’re being met with such a brick wall, one wonders how on earth the impasse will be broken.
Given that there is software available to detect if an abusive message is being sent too, Twitter’s excuse that the volume of daily messages is too high to make a block achievable is regrettable at best.