Football News

Facebook ‘rolling out new tools’ as Sterling racially abused online

Facebook have announced they plan to implement “new tools” which will stop people seeing abuse on their platforms from strangers.

The news comes in the wake of yet more reported online racial abuse. Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling has been racially abused on Instagram less than 48 hours after English football’s social media boycott came to an end.

The abuse was flagged up to Instagram by Sportsmail. And came in the wake of City’s Champions League semi-final victory over Paris St Germain.

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said: “The racist abuse sent to Raheem Sterling is unacceptable and we do not want it on Instagram.

“We have removed the comment and taken action against the account that posted it.

“As part of our ongoing work in this space, we’ll soon be rolling out new tools to help prevent people seeing abusive messages from strangers.

“No single thing will fix this challenge overnight. But we’re committed to doing what we can to keep our community safe from abuse.”

Sterling has been the target of abuse on social media previously.

A study commissioned by the Professional Footballers’ Association published last October looked at social media posts directed towards 44 players during the ‘Project Restart’ period of last season. It found more than 3,000 explicitly abusive messages were directed at those players publicly via Twitter. With 50 per cent of those messages aimed at just three players – Adebayo Akinfenwa, Wilfried Zaha and Sterling.

Sterling said at the time: “I don’t know how many times I need to say this. But football and the social media platforms need to step up. They need to show real leadership and take proper action in tackling online abuse.

“The technology is there to make a difference, but I’m increasingly questioning if there is the will.”

On-loan Stoke player Rabbi Matondo has also been the targets of abuse online since the boycott ended at 11.59pm on Monday.

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Matondo abused online

Matondo, who is with the Potters on loan from German side Schalke, received vile messages on Instagram.

The Wales star wrote on Twitter: “Good to see the boycott changed nothing @instagram”.

A Stoke spokesperson said: “The club is aware of the disgusting racial abuse Rabbi Matondo received on social media overnight and will do everything we can to help the authorities bring the perpetrator to justice.

“We will not tolerate behaviour of this nature. There is no place in society for it. And we will be reporting the offending post in line with the agreed procedure the EFL has in place.”

Swansea’s Morgan Whittaker was targeted during the boycott, becoming the fourth player from the Championship club to be abused since February.

Swansea staged their own week-long social media blackout in early April, which was joined by fellow second-tier club Birmingham.

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