As of 3:00pm this afternoon, football and other sport clubs and organisations have pledged to avoid social media for the entire bank holiday weekend.
A protest against what they see as a lack of action from social media sites over discrimination and abuse, the move was led by football groups, including the Premier League and Football Association, and it’s backed by anti-discrimination group Kick It Out. Other sports, like rugby and cricket, have since vowed to join in, as have some sport broadcasters, including BT Sport and talkSPORT.
What’s the plan?
As of this afternoon, participating clubs and organisations will not be engaging in any activity on their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts until 11:59pm on Monday, May 3.
Earlier in April, Championship club Swansea City shunned social media for a week after players experienced online racial abuse. The protest also mirrors Blackout Tuesday last June, in which many users swerved social media for a day to support the George Floyd protest. With this new demonstration lasting the best part of four days though, and over a period as traditionally crucial to the sporting calendar as the Early May Bank Holiday, participants hope it will prompt those running the biggest social media sites to take issues like racism more seriously.
What do they hope to achieve?
In February, several key figures from football’s governing bodies signed an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, CEOs of Facebook and Twitter respectively, urging them to act against social media abuse. Among their requests were for their sites to filter and block discriminatory posts before they appear, to improve verification methods and to work closer with investigating authorities to track down abusers.
Kick It Out acknowledges some progress has been made since then, but says the purpose of the upcoming boycott is to reiterate those requests.
Should I join in?
Keen supporters of anti-discrimination movements may be wondering if they should participate in the social media no-show and put the weight of their business behind it, especially those involved in sport. Indeed, the movement has trickled down the leagues, with even amateur clubs and leagues supporting it, and it’s not confined to sport either, with Barclays Bank and car retailer Cazoo agreeing to take part.
Whether or not to participate in the boycott is a personal choice, and one that may well be influenced by any discrimination participants may have seen or experienced first-hand, and while avoiding social media goes against what we would normally encourage at Engage Web, we acknowledge that there are times when nothing speaks louder than silence.