Former French player expressed dissatisfaction with the slowness of social media in curbing racist insults
Former French player Thierry Henry, 43, decided to cancel all his social media accounts in protest at the lack of initiative by the administrators of these platforms to combat racism.
Henry, who is currently a coach, expressed his public dissatisfaction with the slowness of social media in curbing racist insults and the ease that offenders have to manifest themselves publicly, while maintaining anonymity.
"Hi guys, starting tomorrow morning (Saturday), I will withdraw social media until people in power are able to regulate their platforms with the same vigor and ferocity they do today when you infringe copyright," he said. the former striker, on his Twitter account.
“The sheer volume of racism, intimidation and consequent mental torture for individuals is too toxic to be ignored. There has to be some responsibility. It is very easy to create an account, use it to intimidate and harass without suffering consequences and still remain anonymous. Until that changes, I will disable my accounts on all social platforms. I hope this will happen soon (changes in social networks) ”, he added.
For Marcel Diego Tonini, doctor of Social History at USP (University of São Paulo) and researcher on racism in football, Henry's initiative can bear fruit.
“It is a way to get the attention of society to show that these companies have done nothing to prevent users stop using their digital platforms to discriminate against people. If Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, among other social networks, start to lose users, they will move. So, it is necessary to do something for these companies to actually start worrying about it ”, said the researcher.
For Marcelo Carvalho, executive director of the Observatory of Racial Discrimination in Football, Henry's departure social networks can have a negative and a positive side.
“It is a pity because this is a victory for racists, for prejudiced people. But perhaps, then on, social networks will adopt another pattern of behavior. And if other black personalities join his campaign, it will be a huge shock for social networks, ”said Carvalho, who sees little initiative by those responsible for social platforms to curb racist demonstrations.
"Social networks need to investigate further to identify the real owner of the profile so that it will suffer sanctions", he added.
Tonini believes that social networks could take more effective initiatives to combat virtual racism.
“First of all, you need a register that avoids anonymity. You must associate accounts that identify the user. Second, each user could have a history easily recorded and difficult to posts for the purpose of proving wrongdoing. This would make it possible, thirdly, that, in the case of virtual crimes, the police have quick access to a whole set of messages and virtual conversations ”, he suggests.
For him, the virtual platforms themselves should these accounts more quickly, avoiding the spread of hate speech. “Otherwise, they themselves are co-responsible for the spread of racism, xenophobia, transphobia, machismo, etc.”, says Tonini.
With an unusual initiative in the football universe, Henry maintains great popularity on social networks, even though he stopped playing nine years ago. He has more than 10 million followers on Facebook, 2.3 million on Twitter and 2.7 million on Instagram.
The former striker is known for being the executioner of the Brazilian team at the 2006 World Cup, played in Germany. Henry scored the goal that eliminated Brazil in the quarterfinals of the competition. France would be defeated by Italy in the final.
In clubs, the striker passed through Monaco, Juventus, Barcelona and Red Bull New York, but his best phase was with the shirt of Arsenal, a team he defended between 1999 and 2007 and in 2012 and for which he scored 175 goals in 258 games.
As a coach, he started in Arsenal's grassroots categories. He was Roberto Martínez's assistant in the Belgian national team, having held the post even in the 2018 World Cup, when the team eliminated Brazil in the quarterfinals with a 2 to 1 victory. He later passed through Monaco and Montreal Impact, Canadian team that disputes the MLS (Major League Soccer), the main soccer league in the United States.