Former Arsenal and Barcelona forward Thierry Henry has quit social media in protest against racism. Thierry, a former French international and one of the most respected voices online, said the problem is “too toxic to ignore” and vowed not to return until the “abuse is with the same vigour and ferocity.”
2.7 million people following him on Instagram and 2.3m on Twitter, while his official Facebook page has 10m followers.
Henry has a combined 15 million followers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook; and that is a huge number. The message is quite clear; his decision to quit social media will most likely be felt far and near.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, the 43-year old former Skysports pundit said:
“From tomorrow [Saturday] morning I will be removing myself from social media until the people in power are able to regulate their platforms with the same vigour and ferocity that they currently do when you infringe copyright.
“The sheer volume of racism, bullying and resulting mental torture to individuals is too toxic to ignore. There has to be some accountability. It is far too easy to create an account, use it to bully and harass without consequence and still remain anonymous.
“Until this changes, I will be disabling my accounts across all social platforms. I’m hoping this happens soon.”
When contacted, a Facebook spokesperson told Skysports that: “We don’t want discriminatory abuse on Instagram and we remove it when we find it. Between October and December last year we took action on 6.6 million pieces of hate speech content on Instagram, 95 per cent of which we found before anyone reported it to us.”
Twitter has been called out a number of times for failing to take urgent actions to fight online racism against footballers. Popular soccer stars have been subject of racist abuse in the last few months; and Twitter confirmed that over 5,000 tweets were removed for policy violation in February.
In a series of tweets last month, Twitter highlighted some of the measures being taken to arrest the situation. In one of the tweets, the microblogging platform said over 5,000 tweets have been removed among other measures taken.
“There have been over 11 million Tweets from people in the UK about football since the season started on the 12th September. In that time, we have removed over 5,000 Tweets in the UK that were targeting the football conversation with violations of the Twitter Rules – of which nearly 90% were removed proactively,” Twitter wrote in a blog post.