Premier League stars respond to Instagram’s new plan to combat online abuse

Premier League stars fear Instagram’s new plans to combat online hate do not go far enough.

The social media firm has pledged to disable the accounts of users repeatedly sending abusive racist abuse to players in their Direct Messages (DM’s).

But players and clubs want all accounts verified and fear they could still experience more hate after games over the coming days.

An statement from Facebook, which owns Instagram, said: “Because DMs are for private conversations, we don't use technology to proactively detect content like hate speech or bullying the same way we do in other places.

“But there are still more steps we can take. So we’re announcing some new measures, including removing the accounts of people who send abusive messages, and developing new controls to help reduce the abuse people see in their DMs.”

But one Premier League club said: ”It does seem that a line in the sand for them is the issue of verified accounts and really they are the only ones that can address this.

"We are all used to having to produce some form of identification to register for things in our day-to-day lives.

"If doing that prevents anonymous abusers from behaving this way online then the social companies should be addressing that on top of the other work they are doing.”

But Facebook’s UK head of content policy Fadzai Madzingira insisted verifying all accounts would prove challenging in communities where such documents would not be readily available.

She said: ”If we were to insist on using government ID or passport details we would be barring access to the very people who use our platforms to build communities, so we are very conscious we allow for that access.”

Instagram has come under heavy pressure in recent weeks after a slew of cases in which players such as Marcus Rashford, Manchester United team-mate Axel Tuanzebe, West Brom's Romaine Sawyers and Chelsea ’s Reece James have been targeted

The firm is developing software to prevent trolls sending unsolicited messages in the first place.

“We’re also announcing that we’ll take tougher action when we become aware of people breaking our rules in DMs.” It added.

“We’ll also disable new accounts created to get around our messaging restrictions, and will continue to disable accounts we find that are created purely to send abusive messages.

“We’re also committed to cooperation with UK law enforcement authorities on hate speech.”

Scotland midfielder Scott McTominay has lashed out at the racist abuse suffered by his United team-mates.

The 24-year-old said: “I feel like it's an absolute shambles. That’s one of my brothers who I've grown up with for a long, long time now – to see that happen to him is absolutely disgusting.

“I feel like now we are getting to the awareness which it needs to have, because these are my brothers who I've played with for years and years, and to see it happening is a shambles. It's a disgrace.”

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