In the 21st century, it’s awful to think that racism is still an issue. No other sport highlights this problem more than football, with incidents in the sport occurring regularly. Most shocking of all is that this is still a problem in England, a country that prides itself on being a tolerant nation.

Although racist incidents happen in many different forms, comments made through social media seem to be one of the most popular forms of racial abuse. Online abuse is common for several reasons, and happens with an almost unmanageable frequency. The ‘report’ button that gives you an option to report content which is inappropriate is now no longer fit for purpose. It cannot handle the volume of racist incidents that occur.

Social media sites like Twitter do not require you to insert your full name and display a profile picture. There is no need to even wait for approval before your account is fully set up. Without a verification process, it makes it harder for those making racist comments online to be caught, thus encouraging people to select this platform as a means to abuse others.

Social media companies seem incapable of suitably regulating their platforms. When people are setting up online accounts, it should be compulsory that they upload a genuine picture of themselves and include relevant details, enabling them to be tracked down easily if they make any comments which are unacceptable.

Of course, there would be the issue of determining whether the name and picture of a person is genuine, but it is the responsibility of social media platforms to insert verification methods to certify whether names and images are genuine or not. If anyone attempts to use a fake name and picture, they should be automatically banned from a site.

Being easily identifiable on social media platforms could go a long way to being a deterrent to those tempted to send racist messages. To stop these messages from being sent in the first place, perhaps online sites could censor any words from being used before they can even be sent to another person or even used on their own page at all.

Another issue caused by social media is the fact that people have the option to send direct messages to people who have never followed them back on apps like Instagram. This should not be an option.

Reading striker Yakou Meite suffered the most horrific abuse because of this. However, it’s not just direct messages that are causing problems. Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham was also racially abused online. This all comes back to the censoring and banning of certain words.

Any words that look similar to racial slurs should be approved by staff working for the platform before they’re allowed to be published on their social media page. Loads of social media posts are sent every second, could a delay in getting a post published deter people from using the most vulgar rhetoric they can muster up? Although privacy and free speech is so important, discrimination has now become such a big issue and action now needs to be taken.

People who use social media should have to link all of their accounts. If a racial incident occurs on one platform, that person should then have every single one of their accounts closed permanently. This could be another deterrent to people who are tempted to make abusive or inappropriate comments on social media.

The police should not have to investigate online incidents like these. Their resources are already stretched enough. Social media sites need to do much more and it’s time for the government to put even more pressure on these platforms to clean up their act. England women’s manager Phil Neville talked about staging a social media boycott, but players shouldn’t lose the luxury of posting on social media because of people who think it’s acceptable to racially abuse someone.

Education is another way to attempting to tackle racism. A lot of social media users are secondary school pupils. Placing more emphasis on this issue in schools could really help tackle racism in both now and in the future. This is an issue that seems to involve football a fair amount and this kind of behaviour needs to end now before the problem gets even bigger.

This is a plea: be careful of what you say on social media. Words have an effect, they have consequences. Those consequences may be more severe than you think. Think before you type, otherwise you may only contribute to this problem. 

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