INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL MEDIA WOES

Photo: dole777

Social media, the place where millions of us gather to see other peoples lives and share what we feel, think or even connect. It is a completely different world managed by mostly once college dropouts, certified geniuses and privacy agreement policies. It exhibits high levels of freedom of speech and comfort that most of us have grown accustomed to. From time to time, we get mad at how much people are getting too comfortable with their comments and choose to leave the many social sites but soon, they come calling again and we listen.

Celebrities, the first-class citizens on social media have been the key leaders in so many social media boycotts over the years as a result of lack of control over what other people say to and about them. Sports men and women for example are some of the category of the first-class citizens that have millions of fans following their every move on social media. In July of 2020, Wilfred Zaha, a professional soccer player from Ivory coast endured a racist comment by a 12-year-old English boy, who wrote a comment so racist and mean, enough to send Zaha to another profession.  Ian Wright, a British football commentator and legendary soccer player, told British media that for years, he has woken up to the meanest racist based words on his twitter account. 

Thierry Henry a French former football player recently deleted all his social media platforms in protest of such incidents to him and so many other people. In response FIFA, Premier league and English football last week announced a social media boycott that lasted three days from the 30th April to the morning of 3rd May. The football community says social media giants have not done enough to prevent racist and sexist attacks on their platforms.

However, some argue that the social network owners cannot monitor what everyone thinks and later writes on the platforms. But moreover, these same social network giants are able to track every move we make in order to target and advertise to us the things we search for on other apps. So, I am left to wonder if the British Football community is right. Can Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the likes, really do something to stop social media racism, sexism, assault and bullying?

Though Facebook and its counterparts will not solve this problem even if they genuinely wanted to, the social media community can do something. If say the 200 million people that follow Lionel Messi on Twitter for example pressured the responsible parties to set up mechanisms to at least reduce such attacks, the internet will change as we know it. We all need social media as much as it needs us, but if we let hate win then we have lost the battle for humanity. It is rather sad that even after people like Messi, Henry and entire sports associations came out to try and make change, someone somewhere on a social site is being bullied and abused because of who they are. And this is happening as you read this.

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