Wales international striker, Gareth Bale has stated he would be willing to join a boycott of social media to tackle online abuse following the decision of former Arsenal and France striker, Thierry Henry to disable his social media accounts.
Henry left social media at the weekend, saying he would not come back until platforms put in more effort to tackle “toxic” racism and harassment.
Two of Bale’s Wales team-mates, Ben Cabango and Rabbi Matondo, were the recent footballers of racial abuse on Instagram. It came following Saturday’s 1-0 friendly win over Mexico.
Matondo blasted Instagram for not reacting quickly enough, saying if he had uploaded images of the game they would have been removed.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, later deleted a number of accounts that were used for the racial abuse.
Speaking on Monday, March 29, 2021, on the eve of Wales’ 2022 World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic, Bale explained that only a mass boycott would have an impact on the game.
The 31-year-old forward said:
“If everyone did it at once, not just one or two people, I would,”
“If it was a campaign where a lot of influential people in sport and other forms of life on social media (acted) to make a statement then I think it could help.
“If that was the case I’m all for that.”
Henry, who had 2.3 million followers on Twitter and 2.7 million on Instagram, told broadcaster ITV that he would only come back to social media when he feels it is “safe”.
The 1998 World Cup winner said:
“People are getting racially abused but, when you see the statement (he made), I talk also about bullying, harassment that can cause mental issues, people commit suicide because of it,”
“It’s very difficult to eradicate everything but can it be safer? We all know that it is a great tool but a lot of people are using it as a weapon.
“Why? Because they can hide behind fake accounts.”b
According to the Guardian, Instagram had already taken action in relation to 6.6 million issues of hate speech between October and December last year.
Twitter has promised to cooperate with authorities to eradicate racial abuse and hate-filled posts but would stop short of banning anonymous accounts.