Football and social media companies must do more to tackle online abuse, says Henry

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By Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira

LISBON, Nov. 2 (Reuters) – Former French footballer Thierry Henry slammed social media giants on Tuesday, saying they had not done enough to tackle online abuse since leaving the platforms more early this year to protest their lack of action to tackle racism and harassment.

Henry, who had 15 million followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, deactivated his accounts in March, calling on platforms to tackle online abuse with the same effort they have made to remove material that violates the law. author.

Now, around six months after quitting social media, the 44-year-old former Arsenal and Barcelona player, who suffered racial abuse during his playing career, has said things are the same and that he might never reactivate his personal accounts.

“They (the social media companies) are doing away with what’s necessary to make us feel safe – let’s be honest,” Henry said at a press conference at the Lisbon Web Summit.

“It’s an essential tool in the world we live in, but can it be safe? This is the main. “

While Henry is unwilling to return to social media, he is teaming up with sportswear company PUMA to find ways to tackle online abuse, including a platform to encourage people to do good by undertaking tasks, from petitions to protests.

Platform creator Dylan Ingham described it as a “social action toolkit”.

Instagram announced a series of measures to tackle online abuse in February, and Twitter said in 2019 that “despicable content” has no place on its platform, but experts have warned that the global nature of the problem makes it difficult to take legal action against the perpetrators. .

Henry said he wanted to make sure young black people chase their dreams and were not put off by so-called Internet “trolls”.

“This is my message: you shouldn’t be stopped by these guys,” Henry said. “If you ever feel like you don’t belong, you belong… no one can stop you from doing whatever you want.” (Reporting by Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira; Editing by Ken Ferris)


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