Social Media Boycott Won’t Work! By Dan Smith
Started on Friday at 3.00 pm and ending on Monday at 11.59 pm, Football and other sports in the UK are taking part in a social media boycott to encourage online companies to put in tougher restrictions to prevent racial discrimination and personal abuse.
These internet tycoons continue to condemn when one of their users commits this crime, but continue to refuse to implement policies where a person would need to verify an account with proof of identification and address.
While it will never be admitted publicly, the resistance to put these measures into place is the fear of losing customers who don’t want to share their personal information.
For example, I do online betting but choose not to register with any site that asks me to screen shot my passport. I don’t have anything to hide, but it’s time consuming and I assume others would have the same stance if suddenly they were having to provide documents to send a message or view a picture of someone’s dinner.
Like a lot of things in the world, the minority ruin things for the majority.
The hope is that after witnessing how the Footballing community forced the cancellation of the Super League inside 24 hours, the same intent can force the likes of Facebook and Twitter to pay attention.
Some have observed the protests towards the Super League as a reflection of where UEFA, FIFA, FA, clubs, broadcasters, even fans priorities lay. When the so called ‘big six’ threatened a break away competition, MP’s were making statements.
The accusation was where was this national outcry the countless times zero tolerance to racism wasn’t being adhered too?
The answer of course is …….. money.
The hope is taking away views and subscribers for three days (with some sponsors taking part) will give the likes of Mark Zuckerberg something to think about.
Like he’s quick to ensure users can’t spam copyright content, surely, he has the software to identify cowards hiding behind their keyboards?
If we get to Tuesday and nothing has changed there will be people who will see this as indicative of how serious the issue of racism is taken…. Or not taken.
The reality is though it’s harsh to compare the backlash towards a tournament set up by 15 greedy owners, to taking on billionaires who run businesses where English Football makes up a tiny percentage of their model.
It’s easier to tidy up your own mess, it’s complicated dictating someone else to do so.
So when the football pyramid was under threat, stakeholders had options. Governing Bodies had the legal right to threaten competition bans. Sky and B T could provide constant coverage of ex-players condemning the idea. Fans could march to stadiums with signs and chants, heck even Prince William could release a statement.
Club’s caved because (while we were never the target audience) the risk of alienating your domestic customers was not worth the risk.
Those within Football fixed a Football problem.
Humans thinking it’s okay to abuse someone online and the ability to get away with it goes beyond sport. That’s about governments implementing legislation and young people being educated. That becomes complicated when social media is designed for countless nations or with their own tolerance and principles towards right and wrong.
Kids will benefit from their role models making this stance, but apart from extending their boycott football can’t force the likes of Twitter to make any policies if they don’t want to.
It would be noble if all UK clubs stayed offline for a whole season, but it would be cutting your nose off to spite your face, because an Arsenal need Facebook more than the other way round.
Facebook is predicted in America as being a future trillion-pound company so are so rich they don’t have to worry about morality. In this instance, they are the Stan Kroenke. How do you get someone who doesn’t care to care?
The irony being, in this situation, the Gunners would be in the role of the 14 clubs they were willing to leave to starve in England. It was believed that the likes of Everton would have saved if their bluff was called. That it would be financially irresponsible if the 14 clubs followed through with a Premiership without a big six.
An Instagram for example will be aware that their advertising/trafficking is revenue football won’t willingly give up on.
Of course it would mean safeguarding your players from abuse but I’m not naive to think any club cares about that over income.
Football is the national sport in the UK (maybe not in Wales) but outside of our bubble it might mean nothing to the likes of Mr Zuckerberg whose net worth is over 40 billion. Football in the UK makes up such a minute portion of that fortune.
Of the current top 50 followed pages on Facebook around the world, only Man United in 31st place are based in the UK. In fact only 8 out of 50 on the list at all represent the Football genre (Ronaldo, Messi, La Liga, UEFA, Neymar, Real Madrid and Barcelona).
Not a single UK club or player make the top 50 list for YouTube, Instagram or Twitter accounts.
So a bit like how the Kroenke family are not going to notice a couple of thousands protesting outside a stadium while they in America, social media gurus are not going to care what football fans in the UK are thinking when only Man United make the top 50 of most followed (and even then, it’s 31st).
Football does not have nearly enough impact in the market to impact any change but can make their own changes. There’s nothing stopping UEFA writing rules insisting on points deductions and season bans if racism occurs.
Every year when the chairmen meet up to agree to rule changes, instead of worrying how many players are needed on the halfway line to kick off, why not sign a document to agree to serious sanctions?
That’s shows you are United and have zero tolerance towards racism.
They won’t, and for the same reason as Mr Zuckerberg won’t. Why agree to a deterrent that cost you money?
Tackling Facebook is like fighting the world. How can you fight the world if you haven’t got your own little island in order?
Thierry Henry didn’t close his accounts because he wanted to take on the world. He chooses to live a life where he doesn’t want to read sick content.
As an employer, a club has a duty of care to safeguard their employees from these sick cowards. So if Arsenal have to lose money by not being a presence online, then so be it.
A generation of gooners might not get to interact with their idols. Yet I would rather youngsters be brought up where abusing someone for being perceived not good at their job, doesn’t become the norm.
Not just racism but abuse of any kind.
I compare it to the Hooliganism issues in the 80’s.
Instead of worrying what our peers were doing, the UK looked at itself in the mirror and made stadiums safer, etc.
I know gooners for example who support this weekend’s stance but will then defend AFTV if I say they have racially abused players.
‘But they said sorry ……’
‘Have you never made a mistake …?’
Those are what readers have said, normalizing racism.
If the FA, Arsenal, UEFA, etc wanted to, we could have zero tolerance towards racism.
Until we do, we can’t change billion-pound companies who’s audience is the whole world.
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