Is Manchester City racist
Premier League social media boycott"Everyone has to report racist posts"
The boycott is not only supported by the clubs of the Premier League - the clubs of the Women's Super League are also resting their activities on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Co. this weekend. Racist online attacks on soccer players have increased in recent years, according to Daniel Kilvington. The scientist researches racism, sports and social media at the University of Leeds Beckett.
"Statistics related to social media and abuse and racism in football show that the internet is getting worse from season to season," Kilvington told the Dlf. For example, the anti-discrimination agency "Kick It Out" found that there were more than 134,000 discriminatory posts on social media platforms in the 2014/15 season - in the context of the Premier League alone, for example against players and clubs. "It's a big problem," Kilvington said, "and that ultimately led to this social media boycott by major players in English professional football."
The interview in full length:
Maximilian Rieger: Do you think boycott is a great way to tackle the problem you are facing right now?
Daniel Kilvington: This is a good question and a difficult one to answer because on the one hand I support the boycott and on the other hand I feel a little uncomfortable with it. The reason I support it is because it shows that football is a community and stands together. And hopefully that can put pressure on the social media platforms that have the ability to make a change as the traffic on the platforms may be reduced due to the online boycott. The reason I feel a little uncomfortable with it, on the other hand, is because the focus should always be on trying to remove the perpetrators who actually uttered these racial abuse. The focus of the action should be on removing them without the victims having to stay away from the platforms themselves. And that's why I feel a little uncomfortable with it.
But all in all, I'm behind it. I think the four days of the social media blackout show the unity of all football stakeholders that it is enough now and that this will no longer be tolerated. And hopefully this will lead to new discussions with the social media platforms - such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook - and lead to a concrete measure at the end of the four days. That would be ideal, but of course we have to wait and see.
Rieger: There were talks between the Premier League and the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. And two months ago, the Premier League wrote a letter suggesting that the social media platforms should block or filter the postings before they are published if they contain racist or discriminatory material. But then there is the question of who decides what is racist and what is discriminatory? This could lead to a kind of censorship when people make racist exclamations because they are blocked when they use certain words or expressions. So what exactly can social media companies do?
Kilvington: The reason this is so difficult is because social media transcends nations, cultures and legal systems. What is considered offensive in one country under certain laws may not be considered offensive in another country. And we mustn't forget that social media is a global phenomenon. The problem is that social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or let's say YouTube that they are largely unregulated.
But it is important that the social media organizations have the resources. They have the money, they are mega-rich organizations that have the technology to do something about it if they really wanted to.
More education and media skills are needed
Social media organizations like Twitter and Facebook have quadrupled their team of moderators in recent years, which is a step in the right direction. But what else can or should happen? I think the social media organization need to be more proactive, they need to develop the AI technology to get rid of this stuff in advance. We need the government to follow in Germany's footsteps and actually sanction these social media organizations if they do not meet the required standards. But let's not forget the reason we are seeing so much abuse and hatred online right now.
It's not social media's fault that people hold racist views, it's society. So we have to make sure that we have a strong curriculum that educates children, young adults and, in principle, people of all ages about hatred, abuse, discrimination and racism and how to identify such things online, how to be media and digital literate.
(IMAGO / Nordphoto) Ice hockey professional Niederberger - "Everyday racism is definitely there"
Everyday racism is definitely present in our society - and thus in a certain way in the DEL, said the goalkeeper of the Eisbären Berlin, Mathias Niederberger, in the Dlf.
Rieger: What you just described would take more or less a lot of your time, especially if you are talking about the educational aspect. So we have to face the fact that there is likely to be some racially tinged language on social media, especially against the players. So what should players do if they are racially insulted online?
Kilvington: That's a fantastic point. Some people have suggested that gamers shouldn't retweet or bring attention to these racist postings. Because they draw attention to the person and give them the platform they might be looking for and it works a bit like a fire accelerator. But I think what I want to make clear is that it is not up to the player to remove this tweet or post if they have been racially insulted. Everyone who sees this post has a duty to report it. We are all actors of change and we can all help ensure that social media is an inclusive space full of respect and not an exclusive space that it has regrettably become, where the toxicity has only got worse over time.
I think players affected by this have to report it, but it can't just depend on the victims to report such things, anyone can report such posts. This is important! But what is also important to me: Players and everyone who is exposed to racist abuse need to know what support systems and defense mechanisms are in place to deal with them.
Rieger: Are the clubs doing enough to support the players?
Kilvington: I am currently doing research and have spoken to a few clubs over the last year and in the past about what they are doing about social media abuse among players.
The answer would be that the clubs could definitely do more. I think we've said that many times. I don't think there is a holistic approach in football right now to protect and support the players who are going through these attacks.
Clubs could do more to protect their players
We have various important interest groups in football, from "Kick It Out" to the Premier League, the professional clubs, the English Football Association and many more. They all have their own approach to protecting the players in certain cases, but there is no concerted path, there is no common communication, actually there is a lack of communication between the main football stakeholders.
And that's why I'm impressed to see that this upcoming boycott is supported by all major stakeholders as it is not just putting pressure on the social media organizations. It actually shows that there is an exchange between major stakeholders in football that should have existed a long time ago in relation to social media and that never happened. And maybe we're at a turning point here.
Rieger: When we look at the fight against racist insults, I also have the feeling that many clubs and players speak more openly about the racism on the platforms that they are exposed to and that they have very clearly opposed. Is this also something clubs and players have learned in recent years that you cannot ignore the problem you are facing?
Kilvington: I researched this in 2016 and spoke to various stakeholders about whether the players were supported or felt confident enough to speak out against racist abuse online or offline. And the general realization was that the players did not want to play the so-called "Race Card" or would speak out against it, because that could lead to more abuse if they expose themselves as black players. And that's why many victims have decided that they are uncomfortable with going public with it.
But I think Raheem Sterling really made a difference in English professional football because he used his platform to highlight implicit racial prejudice within the sports media. And after that a number of players spoke about it very publicly, for example Wilfred Zaha. With the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed, I think we've reached a point where people are speaking about it more openly and honestly than ever before. And we needed a few people who went out there and exposed themselves, like Raheem Sterling and Wilfrid Zahe, to get that public. And then it was easier for others to follow suit. So yeah, I think we've reached a bit of a turning point here, which of course is great to see.
Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.
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