Stepping away from social: time for platforms to take action?
In the past week alone, we’ve seen some influential celebrities ‘step down’ from social media as a result of trolling and abuse which has impacted their mental health.
From YouTuber KSI, to Twitter Queen Chrissy Teigen, and most recently ex-professional footballer Thierry Henry, the list is growing.
For Thierry Henry in particular, his decision follows a recent spate of online racist abuse targeting black football players. With 2.3 million followers on Twitter alone, Henry noted that “the sheer volume of racism, bullying..is too toxic to ignore.”
In April 2019, professional footballers in England and Wales boycotted social media for 24 hours, but Henry is the most prominent name yet within the sport to implement a longer-term boycott.
Last year, Facebook and Instagram announced they would set up a team to fight racism and other forms of discrimination on their platforms and assess racial bias in their algorithms, which was a positive step towards ‘re-taking’ control of their platforms.
Despite this, there have been widespread calls for those in power on social media platforms to do more to prevent and punish racist messages.
Chrissy Teigen quitting Twitter is a blow to the platform and negatively reflects her assessment of their ability to fight abuse. She wasn’t just ‘a’ famous person. She was a ‘power’ user and a fan favourite internally and externally, as well as a great advocate for Twitter as a brand.
Some have called for an end to anonymity online which protects the ‘keyboard warriors’, along with a requirement for users to provide official identification to create an account.
However social platforms decide to proceed and take action, they need to do so quickly.