Barclays WSL branding on the Mitre Delta MAX match day ball Birmingham City Women v Everton Ladies, WSL football match, The Autotech Stadium, Birmingham, UK - 08 Sep 2019 Photo: Paul Greenwood for The FA

FAWSL and FAWC clubs to join social media boycott

Clubs from the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have agreed to join forces with the rest of the English game to participate in a social media boycott for more than three days next weekend.

All of those participating in the boycott will come off their social media channels from 3pm on Friday afternoon until 11.59pm on Monday 3 May.

FAWSL Full-Time were made aware of the social media boycott in an official press release from The Football Association earlier today.

The decision to boycott social media comes as a response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.

Several figures in the elite women’s game have been the subjects of abuse throughout the season with general personal abuse along with racist and sexist abuse sadly becoming a common occurrence in the game. There have also been several incidents in the men’s game with very similar themes. These incidents have resulted in the English game opting to take collective action in the form of a social media boycott.

In February, a number of leading figures in the English game signed a letter to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram requesting a number of actions to be taken to help combat the abuse. These requests included urging filtering, blocking and swift takedowns of offensive posts, an improved verification process and re-registration prevention, plus active assistance for law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute originators of illegal content. While some progress is understood to have been made, the English game have determined that there is a need to reiterate those requests in an effort to stem the relentless flow of discriminatory messages and ensure that there are real-life consequences for purveyors of online abuse across all platforms.

In addition to the written dialogue with those in charge of the major social media platforms, the English game will put pressure upon the UK Government to ensure it’s Online Safety Bill will bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms, as discussed at a DCMS Online Abuse roundtable this week.

Speaking about the scheduled social media boycott, Edleen John, The FA’s Director of International Relations, Corporate Affairs and Co-Partner for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said “It’s simply unacceptable that people across English football and society more broadly continue to be subjected to discriminatory abuse online on a daily basis, with no real-world consequences for perpetrators. This needs to change quickly, and we continue to urge social media companies to act now to address this.

“We will not stop talking about this issue and will continue to work with government in ensuring that the Online Safety Bill gives sufficient regulatory and supervisory powers to Ofcom. Social media companies need to be held accountable if they continue to fall short of their moral and social responsibilities to address this endemic problem.

“We have recently seen how powerful it can be when everybody is united for the good of the English game. We are calling on organisations and individuals across the game to join us in a temporary boycott of these social media platforms, to show solidarity and unite in the message that English football will not tolerate discrimination in any form.”

Clubs in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship will be joined by The Football Association, Premier League, EFL, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and the FSA in boycotting social media.

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