Social media firms 'must take accountability' over online racist abuse

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By Hebe Campbell
A football with an FA Cup logo sits on the sideline
A football with an FA Cup logo sits on the sideline   -   Copyright  JON SUPER/2008 AP

The English Football Association has called on social media companies to take accountability and act on racist abuse towards football players.

It comes after Manchester United's Axel Tuanzebe and Lauren James became the latest players to be targeted by online abusers.

In a Twitter statement, the FA said social media companies "need to step up" and ban users involved in racial discrimination - and gather evidence that can lead to prosecution.

It also called on the UK government to bring in appropriate legislation.

Tuanzebe was subject to racial abuse for the second time in two weeks on Instagram, following Saturday's draw with Everton.

James was also targeted on the platform, just weeks after her brother - footballer Reece James - received similar racially charged abuse.

Instagram announced on Wednesday through a blog post that the platform will be taking new measures to prevent this kind of racial abuse.

"We’ve seen it most recently with racist online abuse targeted at footballers in the UK. We don’t want this behavior on Instagram."

"Today, we’re announcing that we’ll take tougher action when we become aware of people breaking our rules in DMs."

"If someone continues to send violating messages, we’ll disable their account. 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."

On Monday, the UK's Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport called the racist abuse of footballers "shocking" and pledged on Twitter to change the law to make social media companies more accountable.

The UK government held an emergency meeting amid the spike of players reporting racial abuse online.

Twitter told Euronews: "Racist behavior has no place on our service and when we identify accounts that violate any of the Twitter Rules, we take enforcement action. We take enforcement action when we identify violations - this includes hateful imagery and emojis."