Ian Wright calls on social media sites to act over racism after revealing horrific abuse on Twitter

Former England striker wants victims and friends of those who know people subjected to racist abuse to use the hastag ‘NoConequences’ to highlight how bad the situation on social media really is

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
Friday 19 June 2020 13:46 BST
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Ian Wright talked about his hero teacher on Desert Island Discs and it was emotional

Former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright has called on social media companies to do something about the lack of action over racist abuse on their websites, with the football great revealing the full extent of the horrific messages that he receives on a daily basis.

Wright has called on social media users who experience similar abuse at the hand of anonymous accounts to show how bad the problem is by using the ‘NoConsequences’ hashtag, with the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all under pressure to do more to combat racism on their sites.

The 56-year-old football pundit has spoken passionately about his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, drawing on his own experiences both within football and in everyday life.

But his stance has triggered a torrent of racial abuse to be sent to him via direct messages, and although Wright is happy to report those who feel it’s acceptable to send such horrendous and disgraceful slurs, he feels the call for help from social media companies is being ignored.

As a result, Wright wants victims to club together to force Twitter into action.

Posting a series of offensive messages that he has received since speaking in support for the Black Lives Matter campaign on Thursday, Wright said: “These aren't isolated incidents!!! It's daily!! This is what I received for posting and talking about #BlackLivesMatter yesterday. The abuse started a week earlier, the taunting is terrifying. Coming back and back again.

“Let's show these social media companies how bad this has got, it's ridiculous!!! So easy for them!! If you or a black friend has had online racist abuse then please post a tweet with the hashtags #NoConsequences and #BlackLivesMatter.”

The abuse which Wright received in response to his post on Thursday included messages such as “Go back to Africa” and other deeply offensive comments that were all sent from the same account, which has since been deactivated.

Wright highlighted racist abuse that he received on Instagram last month, which resulted in an Irish teenager handing himself into police. He followed that incident by meeting with Facebook and Instagram regarding how easy it is for racism to be distributed across social media, but he is far from the first to vent his frustration with the lack of action being taken by social media sites.

(Twitter/@IanWright0
(Twitter/@IanWright0 (Twitter/@IanWright0)

Both Instagram and Facebook have said recently that the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in fewer staff being available to review reported content, which has made it easier for messages to remain active for longer.

When contacted by The Independent recently regarding the process of posts being deleted or action being taken against users, an Instagram spokesperson said: "There is no place for racism or hate speech on Instagram.

"We have fewer people available to review reports because of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, so we're only able to review content with the most potential for harm.

A Facebook post on the same subject added: "It’s become clear in recent weeks that our offices are unlikely to return to business as usual in the near future. Some of our full-time employees will continue to review sensitive content.

"We will begin working with our partners to bring a small number of content reviewers back to offices to support these efforts in the coming weeks."

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