Facebook offers fans tools to deal with ‘battleground of hate’

Facebook recently launched Take A Stand – an action-led initiative to empower fans to call out discrimination wherever they see it.

Together with Kick It Out, football’s leading anti-discrimination charity, they spoke to fans from clubs across the English leagues to explore experiences of discrimination and how it has impacted their relationship with the game and those around them.

From targeted abuse in Sunday League games, to racist fan chants, homophobic slurs and group messaging exchanges, the resulting documentary captures the impact discrimination has on those who love the game.

While many of the football fans admitted to not knowing how to react when they’ve seen or experienced discrimination first-hand, all agreed there is a way to stand against it and show that “collectively as a group of football lovers, we aren’t going to accept it”.

Fans like Trevor Sealy from Crystal Palace spoke to Facebook and Kick It Out about their experiences of abuse in and around the game

Facebook has produced an anti-discrimination toolkit, accessible through WhatsApp by adding 07432 140 310 to your WhatsApp contacts, and messaging “Hi”.

Fans will be sent a menu of educational content and resources from Kick it Out, The FA, Hope Not Hate and other footballing partners.

“This free service is an accessible way to learn about tackling discrimination and the ways you can report it,” Facebook says.

Other actions taken include…

Messenger reporting service – when fans can safely return to stadiums, they can use this to report matchday discrimination directly to Kick It Out, who can act upon it immediately with the relevant authorities. This new solution is fan-friendly and avoids the issue of poor quality wi-fi in stadiums.

Education programme with Hope Not Hate – The programme aims to de-normalise any form of discriminatory language and empower silent bystanders to call it out wherever they see it. This pilot will be delivered through community and fan initiatives in partnership with the England national teams, Derby County and Portsmouth.

Facebook’s work to proactively remove hate speech – Over the last few years, the social media giants have tripled the size of their safety and security team to 35,000 and built artificial intelligence technology to proactively find and remove this hate speech from their platform. “Between July and September this year we took action on 22.1million pieces of hate speech content – 94.7 per cent of it before anyone reported it to us,” Facebook says. “For context in 2017, we only removed 23 per cent proactively.”

Sanjay Bhandari, the chair of Kick It Out, said, “Our Take A Stand campaign aims to tackle discrimination but also creates a culture where everyone belongs and individuals take personal responsibility for being part of the change. We all have a role to play in challenging discrimination when we see it – whether that is calling it out or reporting it.

“By keeping the conversation going around discrimination in football, we hope to turn bystanders into activists, so that football can be a game that is enjoyed by all, free from abuse. We know that social media in particular can be a battleground of hate. This is partly a behavioural and partly a technological problem. So we need behavioural and technological solutions. It is essential that we work with the social media companies to help solve these problems and encourage different behaviours.”

Facebook director Jerry Newman said, “We want to give fans the confidence to call out discrimination when they see it – to replace silence with action. As the fans we spoke to in the video show, standing up to it can be difficult, but it’s not impossible and so many of them are finding ways to challenge others in person, on social media and through their networks.

“Now is the time for every fan to feel empowered to take action. The aim of our new tools and resources is to make it easier for football fans from all backgrounds to challenge and report these incidences; to create an environment where people can be free from discrimination and abuse in real life and on our apps.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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