News & Media

Minister must write to social media platforms in support of sporting organisations social media blackout

30 April 2021

Statement by Senator Mark Wall
Spokesperson on Defence, Tourism and Sport

As football organisations in England boycott social media from this afternoon, Labour sports spokesperson Senator Mark Wall has urged all sporting organisations and professionals to show a united front against social media abuse.

Senator Wall said:

“The Labour Party stand in support with sporting organisation’s decision to do a social media blackout this weekend to highlight the hate and discrimination that has plagued sports in recent years. While there is no doubt that social media companies have a role to play in tackling this, we also need to open a wider conversation, identifying ways in which we can tackle hate speech, discrimination, racism and the causes of racism in sports and our society.

“In support of the sporting community, I call on the Minister for Sport to write to the social media platforms highlighting Ireland’s support of the social media blackout and urging these companies to do more to protect against the spread on hated online towards all people. There are simple steps that these platforms can take to protect against online hate, like the need to provide ID to set up an online profile. This would stop people making the fake pages and anonymous profiles which have become synonymous with hate.

“While this social media blackout will not solve all ills of society, it sends a powerful and important message to those who seek to sow hatred and hurt in sports. It will also put pressure on the social media platforms who absolutely have a responsibly to ensure that their sites are not being used to foment verbal violence. Discrimination and racism is not just happening online, but given the power and potential that social media giants have to lead by example, regulating the online world should be a first port of call.

“Indeed, the Irish political system needs to take stock of the experiences of people of colour living here in Ireland. We know that there are racist attitudes and institutions that need to be tackled in this country. As public representatives, we have to show leadership on the issue of racism and discrimination. I commend the sports organisations in England for taking the lead and showing that there is no place for hate in society. I call on the Minster to ask the social media giants to play their role in creating meaningful change.”