Harry Kane calls for legislation to force social media companies to stop online abuse
England captain Harry Kane has called on ministers to introduce legislation to compel social media companies to do more to stop online abuse.
It follows the end of a three-day social media boycott which received the support of leading sports bodies and athletes – including British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and the Football Association, of which Prince William is the president – in a show of solidarity to tackle racism, abuse and discrimination.
However, while the boycott was deemed a success by those taking part, it was marred by what was described by Swansea City as “vile racist abuse” aimed at their striker Morgan Whittaker.
South Wales Police said officers are investigating “the origin of racially motivated social media posts” directed at the 20-year-old following the weekend’s game against Derby County, during which he scored against his former club.
“The fact that this has happened across a period where clubs, players and stakeholders have come together for a boycott of social media for this very reason, again shows just how much work still needs to be done,” read a statement from the Sky Bet Championship football club.
He is the fourth Swansea player to be racially abused on social media since February, following Yan Dhanda, Ben Cabango and Jamal Lowe – “a damning indictment on the world we live in”, according to the Welsh club.
“Chief executive Julian Winter recently wrote to both Twitter and Facebook, the latter replying with examples of how they try to combat online abuse. But with vile incidents appearing on a daily basis, stronger action is clearly required,” it said.
“Morgan has the full and unwavering support of everyone at Swansea City, and our message remains clear. Enough is enough.”
An FA statement, also tweeted by Kane, said the boycott of social media was to “demonstrate our collective anger. But this won’t eradicate abuse on its own”.
It added: “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.”
The Premier League and EFL, plus all member clubs including Tottenham Hotspur, also called for action and urged Facebook, Instagram and Twitter “to use their power to affect change and ensure there are real-life sanctions for online hate”.