Social media platform, Instagram, on Wednesday announced new measures to address online abuse in the wake of a spate of “horrifying” racist attacks on Premier League players.
Several high-profile players including Manchester United trio Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Axel Tuanzebe, including Chelsea full-back Reece James, were targeted on social media in recently.
The social media platform has stated that it would take down accounts being used to send abusive messages.
Fadzai Madzingira, content policy manager at Instagram’s parent company Facebook, told Britain’s Press Association news agency she was “horrified” at the vitriol directed at footballers.
“Currently, we will set a specific ban or what we call a block for a set amount of time when someone violates those rules and we extend that time should they continue to do so,” she said.
“What we’re announcing today is that we’re taking tougher measures on people who violate those rules in Instagram direct messaging, so instead of just extending the time, we’ll be removing the accounts altogether.
“That allows us to ensure that we have a lower tolerance for that sort of abuse in direct messaging and we’ll be closing those accounts more quickly in Instagram direct messaging than anywhere else on the platform.”
The abuse has not been restricted to private messages, with a number of players seeing monkey emojis and racist terms left in the comment section of posts.
A number of those accounts appear to be focused on sending abuse, something Madzingira says Instagram continues to work on, while she pointed to comment filters that can block certain words, phrases and emojis from appearing.
“I think there is something about the world that we’re living in where someone can go from throwing a banana peel at a player on the pitch to suddenly also waking up and opening their accounts and using this online,” she said.
“What we’re trying to address is the online aspect but there’s definitely a broader conversation we need to have about what does racism in sport look like and how do we stop that sort of behaviour?”