Racism in football: Twitter defends abuse policy after Premier League players targeted

Paul Pogba received racist abuse online after missing a penalty against Wolves
Paul Pogba received racist abuse online after missing a penalty against Wolves

Social media platform Twitter says it has "taken action" on "more than 700 examples of hateful conduct" in the past two weeks after several Premier League players were racially abused.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham are among those who have been targeted.

The online service says it will "continue to take swift action".

Twitter's most recent report says it took action against 7% of reported cases of abuse or hateful conduct.

Twitter said it had also met "directly affected" clubs, the Professional Footballers' Association and Kick it Out in an attempt to "tackle the issue collectively".

"This vile content has no place on our service," it said in a statement. "We want to play our part in curbing this unacceptable behaviour."

But United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard have been among those asking for social media companies to do more to curb racist behaviour on their platforms.

In response to their meeting, Kick it Out said it had agreed a number of future steps, but added: "What the public need most is Twitter to show decisive leadership and deliver concrete action for change."

Pogba, Abraham and United forward Marcus Rashford were all abused on social media platforms after missing penalties for their clubs.

Is Twitter doing enough?

According to its most recent transparency report from July 2018 to December 2018, of the 7.2m accounts reported for abuse or hateful conduct across the platform as a whole, Twitter took action against 7% of them.

Compared to the previous six months, reports of abuse or hateful conduct rose by 31% but action against them dropped by 9%.

Twitter says it has a range of enforcement actions, including account suspension.

Following their meeting, Kick it Out said it had agreed a meeting with police and the Crown Prosecution Service to "develop an efficient approach to identifying and punishing" offenders.

It also said it would invite football bodies, including the Football Association, the Premier League and EFL to agree a "collective action plan", and said Twitter would help with its campaigning around the issue.

It added: "Kick It Out will continue to take a lead in bringing the football authorities and the legal system together to tackle online abuse.

"But what the public need most is Twitter to show decisive leadership and deliver concrete action for change - we expect to see that in the weeks and months ahead."

Twitter said: "In the past two weeks, we have taken action on more than 700 examples of abuse and hateful conduct related to UK football.

"We will continue to take swift action on the minority that try to undermine the conversation for the majority. In that same time, we have met with the Professional Footballers' Association, Kick It Out and directly affected football clubs, and agreed a number of proactive measures to tackle this issue collectively.

"Working with the PFA, we will participate in their player training programme, and will be joining a series of educational sessions with its membership to support the PFA's ambition to tackle the issue.

"Working with Kick It Out, we will continue our working relationship with UK policing to further brief them and provide training on our policies, procedures and dedicated 24/7 reporting channels for law enforcement.

"To be clear, this behaviour does not reflect the vast majority of fans who use Twitter to participate in vibrant conversations around football in the UK. We have spent years forging strong partnerships with clubs, organisations and supporters and deeply value the relationships."