Stoke City’s Rabbi Matondo has shared racist abuse received on Instagram and criticised the social media platform for its response to last weekend’s boycott.
Matondo, who is on loan at the Championship club from Schalke in the Bundesliga, shared screenshots on Twitter of private messages from two different Instagram users on Tuesday, adding: “Good to see the boycott changed nothing @Instagram”.
Sky Sports joined the wider sporting community in taking part in a four-day social media boycott to tackle online abuse and discrimination – which ended at midnight on Monday – and did not post any sports content to its channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok for the duration of the boycott period.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, have removed the accounts which sent the abuse to Matondo and told Sky Sports News they are set to release “new tools to help prevent people seeing abusive messages from strangers.”
A spokesperson for Facebook said: “The abuse sent to Rabbi Matondo is unacceptable. We do not want it on Instagram and we quickly removed the accounts that sent it.
“We recently announced that we’ll take tougher action against people breaking our rules in DMs and later this week, we’re rolling out new tools to help prevent people seeing abusive messages from strangers.
“No single thing will fix this challenge overnight but we’re committed to doing what we can to keep our community safe from abuse.”
Matondo, 20, was previously targeted with racist abuse, along with Welsh international team-mate Ben Cabango, following Wales’ win over Mexico in March this year. Police in Cardiff opened an investigation into the origin of the abuse.
After sharing screenshots of those previous messages, Matondo added: “And it continues… another week of @instagram doing absolutely nothing about racial abuse.
“My insta will get taken down if I post any clips from my games though… #priorities.”
In response to the racist abuse of Matondo and Cabango in March, a spokesperson for Facebook told Sky Sports News: “We don’t want racist abuse on Instagram and have removed the accounts that sent these messages to Ben Cabango and Rabbi Matondo this weekend.
“We have built tools that mean public figures don’t ever have to receive DMs (direct messages) from people they don’t follow and we recently announced that we’ll take tougher action when we become aware of people breaking our rules in DMs.
“This work is ongoing and we are committed to doing more. We also know these problems are bigger than us, so are working with the industry, government and others to collectively drive societal change through action and education.”
Social media boycott sent ‘powerful and united message’
The Football Association has called on the Government to introduce legislation to compel social media companies to do more to stop online abuse following the sport community’s powerful and united four-day boycott.
Reaction to the four-day social media boycott to tackle online abuse and discrimination – which ended at midnight – has continued to pour in with Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett also appearing on Sky Sports News to lay out what he wants to see happen next.
Kick It Out’s four key social media demands
1. Improved prevention – to help stop online abuse in the first place
2. Account verification – to deter people from writing hateful comments while anonymous
3. Proper punishments – current punishments for online abuse are insufficient
4. Government intervention – fast-track the Online Harms Bill through Parliament
Former West Ham, Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand also revealed to Sky Sports News that he is set for a meeting with the social media giants where the boycott will be discussed and what steps will be taken next to fight online abuse.
An FA statement, also posted by England captain Harry Kane, said the boycott of social media was to “demonstrate our collective anger. But this won’t eradicate abuse on its own.
“We will continue to challenge social media companies to make changes to their platforms, urge Government to introduce strong legislation quickly and request that individuals call out and report online abuse when they see it.”
What have the social media companies said?
A Twitter spokesperson told Sky Sports News: “Racist behaviour, abuse and harassment have absolutely no place on our service and alongside our partners in football, we condemn racism in all its forms.
“We are resolute in our commitment to ensure the football conversation on our service is safe for fans, players and everyone involved in the game.
“Since the season started on September 12, there have been over 30m Tweets from people in the UK about football. In that time we have removed over 7,000 Tweets in the UK that were targeting the football conversation with violations of the Twitter Rules. This represents roughly 0.02 per cent of the overall football conversation in the UK and does not reflect the vast majority of people who engage in vibrant discussions about football on Twitter.
“We have worked to improve our proactive measures, where now 90 per cent of the abuse targeting players is removed without the need for a user report. We’ve also provided expedited reporting channels to our football partners to ensure any potentially violative content is reviewed and actioned swiftly.
“Racism is a deep societal and complex issue and everyone has a role to play. We are committed to doing our part and continue to work closely with valued partners in football, government and police, along with the working group convened by Kick It Out to identify ways to tackle this issue collectively – both online and away from social media.”
Facebook, which owns Instagram, said it would “continue listening to feedback and fighting hate and racism on our platform” and work with UK police on hate speech.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “No one should have to experience abuse anywhere, and it’s against our policies to harass or discriminate against people on Instagram or Facebook.
“We agree with and have already made progress on many of the players’ suggestions, including taking tougher action against people breaking our rules in DMs.
“We also recently announced that, starting next week, we’ll provide new tools, based on consultation with footballers and anti-discrimination experts, to help prevent people seeing abusive messages from strangers.”
Sky Sports News has also contacted Snapchat, Tik Tok, and YouTube for a response.
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Kick It Out reporting racism
Kick It Out is football’s equality and inclusion organisation – working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.