National League Supports Social Media Boycott

By Oliver Osborn

The National League will unite with English football this weekend by holding a boycott across the organisation's social media channels.

From 3pm on Friday 30 April to 11.59pm on Monday 3 May, The National League's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts will be inactive, raising awareness to ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football..

General Manager of The National League Mark Ives said: "The appropriate use of social media can be such a powerful tool for good but there is no place for online abuse and any form of discriminatory behaviour.

"So much more needs to be done and I urge all within the League to support this initiative to raise awareness for the need for social media companies to do act positively to combat this form of behaviour”.

During this period, information on Matchday 41 (Saturday) and 42 (Monday) in the Vanarama National League will be found on The National League, which will continue to be updated.

An FA statement read: "We will join the Premier League, EFL, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out, Women in Football and the FSA in uniting for a social media boycott from 3pm on Friday 30 April to 11.59pm on Monday 3 May, in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.

"This has been scheduled to take place across a full fixture programme in the men’s and women’s professional game and will see clubs across the Premier League, EFL, Barclays FA Women's Super League and Women’s Championship switch off their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

"As a collective, the game recognises the considerable reach and value of social media to our sport. The connectivity and access to supporters who are at the heart of football remains vital.
However, the boycott shows English football coming together to emphasise that social media companies must do more to eradicate online hate, while highlighting the importance of educating people in the ongoing fight against discrimination.

"In our letter of February 2021, English football outlined its requests of social media companies, urging filtering, blocking and swift takedowns of offensive posts, an improved verification process and re-registration prevention, plus active assistance for law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute originators of illegal content. While some progress has been made, we reiterate those requests today in an effort to stem the relentless flow of discriminatory messages and ensure that there are real-life consequences for purveyors of online abuse across all platforms.

"Boycott action from football in isolation will, of course, not eradicate the scourge of online discriminatory abuse, but it will demonstrate that the game is willing to take voluntary and proactive steps in this continued fight.

"Finally, while football takes a stand, we urge the UK Government to ensure its Online Safety Bill will bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms, as discussed at the DCMS Online Abuse roundtable earlier this week.

"Edleen John, our director of international relations, corporate affairs and co-partner for equality, diversity and inclusion, said: "It’s simply unacceptable that people across English football and society continue to be subjected to discriminatory abuse online on a daily basis, with no real-world consequences for perpetrators.

"This needs to change quickly, and we continue to urge social media companies to act now to address this. We will not stop talking about this issue and will continue to work with government in ensuring that the Online Safety Bill gives sufficient regulatory and supervisory powers to Ofcom. Social media companies need to be held accountable if they continue to fall short of their moral and social responsibilities to address this endemic problem.

"We have recently seen how powerful it can be when everybody is united for the good of the English game. We are calling on organisations and individuals across the game to join us in a temporary boycott of these social media platforms, to show solidarity and unite in the message that English football will not tolerate discrimination in any form."

Where next?

What's Ahead In The National League This Evening? We’ve got no fewer than eight matches coming your way tonight – and most of the fixtures have something big riding on them.
What Happened On Saturday In The National League? There was another day of promotion twists and turns on a typically intense National League afternoon.

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