Why we are backing social media boycott

Future Voices: What effect is social media on us? Photo: Chris Ison/PA Wire

We are backing a boycott of social media to raise awareness of online abuse - Credit: PA


Social media is a blessing in so many ways. It encourages community, interaction, and gives people a voice.

But it is also a curse. For it has opened up countless new opportunities for people to heap vile abuse on others.

Too often, this happens without any comeback. Donning the cloak of anonymity, people bully, harass and insult others.

They feel able to do it. They probably even feel it is their divine right to do it.

We recognise that we are embroiled in the issue. The comments section on our online stories, and the interaction on our Facebook posts have featured - and still feature - unpleasant chat.

Achieving the balance between giving people a voice and keeping the debate wholesome is difficult, but worth striving for.

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That is why at 3pm today we will be joining Norwich City FC, all top-level football clubs and many, many others in switching off our sports social media.

Our participation in the boycott is first and foremost a response to the repugnant racist, homophobic and deeply personal abuse that so many footballers endure. We stand with them in demanding an end to it.

It is also about the wider issue. This abuse affects people from all walks of life: whether sports stars, councillors, MPs, celebrities or just us ‘ordinary' people.

We don’t know whether the boycott will change the twisted minds of individuals, but we expect it to be noticed by the social media giants, including Twitter and Facebook.

They have to do more to protect users from abuse, and to be draconian in response to it.

So let’s all switch off today, and hope that it is the first step towards dignified debate.

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