Sport social media boycott: The BBC abhors online abuse

BBC Sport strengthens its response to hateful messages on social media in August 2020

This is a statement from the BBC:

This Bank Holiday weekend football and other sports will stage a social media boycott in response to the rise of hate-filled social media posts aimed at players and officials.

The campaign is calling for the UK government and social media companies to do more to tackle online hate. They want filtering, blocking and swift takedowns of offensive posts, an improved verification and registration process for users and “active assistance” for police and other agencies to identify and prosecute people.

The BBC as a corporation cannot take part in the campaign. We have special duties that don’t apply to other organisations under our Royal Charter and editorial guidelines that prevent us from joining lobbying campaigns. So while we have firm policies to deal with online abuse, the corporation cannot join a lobbying campaign no matter how worthy the cause.

This does not mean that the BBC is neutral on issues such as racism or hate crime. They are abhorrent.

A recent BBC Sport survey of elite British sportswomen found rising levels of social media abuse. Closer to home, we have also been disgusted and alarmed by persistent racism in the comments sections of our social media posts.

To challenge this, the BBC launched Hate Won’t Win, pledging to make our social spaces safer. As a result, we have blocked hundreds of users, hidden or removed thousands of comments and worked hard to send a strong message against hate on our posts.

We will continue to work hard, and publicly, to tackle social media abuse and to expose and challenge racism. And we’ll continue to report extensively on the impact of social media hate – and this weekend’s boycott – across our platforms.

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