The need is urgent to deal with social media racism

The JC Leader, 15 July 2021

July 15, 2021 15:48

It has been a tonic to see the groundswell of admiration for Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in recent days, since they were subjected to racist abuse online. As our front page picture shows, we stand together against the racists. One of the many problems with social media is that it gives a platform to any crank or racist with a phone and then amplifies the impact of their posts. While almost the entire country regards the England team and Gareth Southgate as role models and a breath of fresh air for their humility and grace in defeat, a tiny number of racists have given a very different impression.

Our community has, of course, been here, too. Just as the tech companies have allowed anti-Black racism to be published with impunity, so they give antisemites a platform on which to post their hatred. This racism is not an accidental by-product of the free-for-all of social media — it is part of the business model. The more racists are attracted, the more money the sites make. The more racist posts are shared, the greater the profits. So urging tech companies to take action is a pointless exercise. The only way they will act is if legislation forces them to act or if it becomes financially ruinous for them to continue to facilitate race hate — through swingeing fines. The government’s Online Harms Bill promises much, but we await proof that it will deliver. The need is urgent.

July 15, 2021 15:48

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