Well done to Thierry Henry for taking a real stand against online abuse (Opinion)

Thierry Henry Is the greatest player I ever saw play for Arsenal, the club I love. Just when I thought he couldn’t do any more, he took action in the fight against racism that I have previously suggested, boycotting social media.

Football Federations rightly will hold up the relevant posters, the likes of Sky Sports will produce montages, some players take the knee before kick off. All with the same message, racism is wrong, yet all are under pressure to put their money where their mouth is.

Anyone can say how terrible something is, but it’s pointless if you do nothing when it happens.

Finally though, it’s not just clubs being put under pressure to show zero tolerance.

Shamefully in 2021 someone being abused online is no longer newsworthy, it’s become an accepted part of our ugly society.

The likes of Facebook and Twitter copy and paste the same line. What the likes of Henry are starting to see is that these billion pound businesses have been saying the same thing for years now. They promise to be looking into ways to regulate their platforms, when in reality it would be very simple to create software where a user has to prove who they are.

They are quick to stop you uploading YouTube videos but do nothing about trolls. That tells you the priority.

Thankfully the likes of Mark Zuckerberg are starting to realise they can no longer get away with it and it’s thanks to the likes of Henry, who has made it clear he’s not opening his account again till he sees regulation.

Henry is a smart man. He’s not just closing his account because he’s grown disgruntled. He’s using his celebrity to try and influence change.

Given he has 2.3 million followers on Twitter and his status in the Sport, he will encourage discussions far more then anyone taking the knee will do. The hope was that it will encourage others to follow in his lead.

The irony is by walking away from social media Henry is doing more to spread awareness then the celebrities who use Social media to promise they are ‘woke’ or sing montages together. I cringed when a year ago Hollywood sang ‘imagine’ in Isolation or took part in a campaign to ‘take responsibility’.

It’s so transparent. Rich people advertising themselves by making a company richer.

That’s not to say those who don’t take part are not genuine in the message, but how does saying something is terrible over and over again change anything if there are not consequences? These celebs are not helping the problem just enabling those responsible.

Lining up 10 A-listers to quote something fancy means nothing if the same platform is not willing to have a zero tolerance towards trolls.

There’s only so much time that people can talk about what is wrong, how bad history is etc, before they get bored. At what point do you discuss a solution? It’s been a couple of years now of a rise in online abuse and everyone saying how sick it is, but never forming an action plan.

Henry is smart enough to know if you do the same things, you get the same results.

Trust me, while a Facebook or Twitter have their image boosted by those using them to spread a message that racism is bad, they care more if big names leave, citing their neglect as a reason.

Of course owners of these sites detest discrimination, most sane humans do, but not enough to change their policies. Like most businesses, the priority is to make as much money as possible. Asking your users to register their details is likely to push away your customers.

The dilemma these corporations face is they realise that many notice that’s the only reason they are slow on alterations is financial. Hence If every current and ex Gunner followed in Henry’s footsteps that’s a lot of less traffic.

Arsenal are not innocent themselves. They took part in ‘blacking out’ their accounts for a day in protest to George Floyd’s death. Yet they continue to work with these companies who are doing nothing to safeguard the likes of Willian, Eddie Nketiah, Aubameyang, Xhaka, etc, who have gone on record about the scale of the abuse.

Arsenal don’t take a stance for the same reason Facebook don’t ask for proof of ID. Social media numbers are part of the revenue streams that clubs now take into consideration.

So all parties in truth are happy with how the model operates and have zero designs to see it change. That’s why it’s down to a Henry to use his profile to make a difference.

Like a company might pay a star to endorse their product, that product loses credibility if a star openly rejects them.

Think how many Gooners use Facebook and Twitter. If they are going to be influenced by anyone it will be by our record goal scorer. At the very least it promotes discussion. Discussion we wouldn’t have had if he followed the majority did nothing.

Every few decades there is a sportsperson who steps up to try and make the world politically better. Henry doesn’t need to, he doesn’t need the money or the need to keep himself relevant. He’s doing this to make the world better.

For that he’s even more of a legend.

Be Kind In The Comments

Dan Smith

Tags racism Thierry Henry


  1. Perhaps as a sign of unity if there was an effort from millions to “disconnect” for several days it would force change. You must speak a language they understand, Money and use of their product.

    Facebook and Twitter have repeatedly shown money and growing the business are the priority. Of course it is important and necessary, but placed above morality and decency?

    Watching their testimonials in from of Congress here in the States there is no mistaking. They deflect responsibility and accountability, hide behind their “section 230” exclusion.

    “We merely serve as a platform, we don’t write the news or stories, we’re not journalists, we’re only providers.”

    And magically they absolve themselves of any ownership. Meanwhile some get banned for questioning politicians, while others post fake news without recrimination.

    Social bulllying flourishes, kids commit suicide as a result too often, racism abounds, and they absolve themselves and rake in profit.

    Personally I disconnected from Facecrook and Twitter years ago and I’ve never been happier. I don’t give them the power or “connection” they so desperately crave.

    Bravo to Henry and others who step away.

  2. I wonder when people will start talking about Asian lives matter? When do we start discussing blacks attacking Asians? I wonder when the media and the big tech publishers will get on board with this? And not just Asians, blacks are killing more than anyone in the US, and anyone! A lot of people are victims, including blacks, but apparently it’s only blacks though. All we keep hearing is that they are the only victims.

    Love Henry, great that he’s fighting racism, but stupid that he’s on the brain dead bandwagon supporting a violent, racist, fascist organization that wants to continue burning down society…quite literally!

    1. you need to do some better research 3rdMan or at the very least not race to comment on something you clearly don’t fully comprehend…I’m starting to understand why you post what you post, you appear rather obtuse when it comes to grasping the vitally important subtleties inherent within all highly complex issues and concepts

      1. So what is wrong with my research? Have you been on the BLM website? Have you not been watching the months and months, of violence, killings, abuse, intimidation, destroying businesses and economy by this political group?

        1. stay in your lane…your mass generalizations and clicheic commentaries that seem to rely upon a one evening trip down a rabbit hole neither provide insight nor help the situation…obviously unlike yourself, I’ve been living through the scenario, first-hand, and not from a comfortable distance, so maybe think twice before offering up some of your second or thirdhand rhetoric

  3. “Shamefully in 2021 someone being abused online is no longer newsworthy”
    In all honesty, should it be newsworthy? Do we really not have more important things going on in the world in 2021 than some things being said online?
    I’m glad Thierry Henry is doing this, but isn’t this kind of statement a bit hysterical?

    And no, I don’t believe you should have to provide ID to use social media. If they did that, people would just jump over to a different platform. It shouldn’t be a legal requirement to show ID to use the internet.

      1. Because it makes it easier for governments to persecute people for other reasons.
        Thinking about it, I’m not against any company having these requirements, but it should never be a legal requirement.

        1. Wouldn’t be a legal requirement
          Would just be a condition
          If people don’t like it , they don’t have to sign up

          1. Yeah, I’m fine with that, but I don’t think they’d do it, because a lot of people would leave and the platforms would just become even more of a bubble.

          2. That’s the priority though mate
            Policing social media has to be more important then it being an inconvenience

          3. It’s complicated. I’m going back and forth on this in my head. I don’t trust these companies at all, which is why I don’t use them now – I just fear for those that do and feel strongly that they’re having a profoundly negative impact on society, particularly with the ways that they are knowingly creating political bubbles which has almost certainly been a major cause of all the awfulness we’ve seen over the past few years.
            We already know that they sell what information people do decide to give. On the one hand, this change would likely lose them a lot of users, but on the other, they’d likely receive another layer of information on the users who did decide to stay.
            All I can say is, the main reason I support Henry in turning off social media is that hopefully it will encourage more people to give it up completely.

  4. Doesn’t this whole sad but spot on article from Dan prove to us how hypocritical so many companies (and individuals) can be when it comes to having so called principles.

    Easy to have them of course,UNTIL they get in the way of making MONEY. And then watch them disappear in an instant! Gross greed is the deadly poison that ruins everything it touches ; from the morality of football(which back then, it used to still have), to the poisonous greed of FB, Twitter and so much else beside. Allowing racist posts brings social media companies money, which is why they will not even try to ban racists scum and we all know that truth.

    Good on Thierry Henry AND LETS ALL ENCOURAGE ALL TO FOLLOW SUIT and leave FB, Twitter etc.

    Step forward any human who can HONESTLY SAY they personally are not a hypocrite in any way at all.
    I will be amazed if anyone has the gall to try claiming that and I WOULD NOT BELIEVE THEM ANYWAY.

  5. First let me say, I do not support on-line abuse of any kind. But, I’m not sure if Henry is protesting against on-line abuse generally or whether he is just responding to the irate fans of the Montreal Impact, following his premature resignation as manager. I think we need to draw a distinction between fan reaction to players generally and fan reaction to team managers. How would our own fanbase have reacted if Unai Emery had decided to pack his bag and leave after his first year at the Club?

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