Social media abuse: Twitter says UK ‘by far’ main origin of comments after Euro 2020 final

Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford
Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were all racially abused on social media after England’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy

The UK was “by far” the main origin of the “abhorrent racist abuse” on Twitter after England lost the Euro 2020 final, the social media platform has said.

Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho were abused after missing in the penalty shootout loss to Italy.

Twitter removed 1,622 tweets in the next 24 hours but identify verification “would have been unlikely to prevent the abuse”, it said.

“Of the permanently suspended accounts, 99% of their owners were identifiable.”

Police arrested 11 people for sending racist social media messages after the final, with almost four times more of the criminal comments being posted by people overseas than in the UK.

However, Twitter said: “While many have quite rightly highlighted the global nature of the conversation, it is also important to acknowledge the UK was – by far – the largest country of origin for the abusive tweets we removed.”

Automated tools helped the platform immediately identify and remove the tweets.

“Since our update in February, we’ve improved our proactive tools to identify racist abuse and removed just under 13,000 Tweets – of which 95% were identified proactively,” Twitter added.

“Soon, we will be testing a new product feature that temporarily autoblocks accounts using harmful language.

“We’re determined to do all we can, along with our partners, to stop these abhorrent views and behaviours being seen on and off the platform.”

Racist abuse of England players is ‘unforgivable’ – Southgate

There have been numerous calls from within football for social media companies to take more action against discrimination on their platforms.

Earlier this year clubs, players, athletes and a number of sporting bodies took part in a four-day boycott of social media in an attempt to tackle abuse and discrimination.

And last week the Professional Footballers’ Association called on Twitter to stop taking the “easy” option to tackle abuse aimed at players online.

New research showed a 48% rise in racist abuse sent to players on the social media platform during the second half of last season, and that the majority of accounts that sent the abuse were still on Twitter as recently as last month.

After Rashford, Saka and Sancho were targeted, there was condemnation from, among others, the Duke of Cambridge, the Football Association and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

PL announce new anti-discrimination measures

Fans found guilty of abuse could face lifetime bans from all Premier League stadiums under new anti-discrimination measures to be implemented from the start of the 2021-22 season.

All 20 clubs have signed up to the measures and together they will enforce league-wide punishments for anyone found to have behaved in a discriminatory or abusive way towards players, staff, officials, stewards or fans attending a Premier League match – both in person and online.

“The commitment from all clubs to enforce league-wide bans demonstrates there is no place for discrimination of any kind in football and we will continue to work together to fight all forms of prejudice,” said Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.

“Football is a diverse sport, which brings together communities from all backgrounds. We call on fans to come together with us and our clubs to help tackle discrimination by challenging and reporting abuse wherever they see it.”​

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