Protecting Players from Online Abuse: FIFA’s Social Media Tools

FIFA has taken a crucial step in safeguarding players from online abuse by announcing that its Social Media Protection Service (SMPS) will now be accessible to all 211 member associations and their teams. This initiative, which was developed in collaboration with the players’ union FIFPRO, aims to combat hate speech on social media platforms and shield athletes from harmful content. The decision to make this service widely available comes as the world observes the International Day for Countering Hate Speech, emphasizing the importance of creating a safe online environment for everyone involved in football.

Effectiveness of the Social Media Protection Service

The SMPS was initially introduced during the 2023 Women’s World Cup, where it demonstrated its effectiveness in moderating hate speech and concealing abusive comments. It has since garnered support from various teams participating in major tournaments such as the European Championship and the upcoming Copa América. FIFA President Gianni Infantino expressed confidence in the service’s capabilities, citing its successful track record in FIFA competitions as a driving force behind the decision to extend its reach to all member associations. The primary goal is to safeguard players, coaches, officials, and teams from online abuse, as well as protect their followers from encountering harmful content.

Impact on Online Behavior and Reporting

Since its launch at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the SMPS has played a pivotal role in addressing online abuse by concealing 2.6 million abusive comments from public view. In addition, close to 31,000 instances of “abusive content” were reported to major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube, resulting in punitive actions such as account suspensions. Shockingly, statistics revealed that one in five players experienced online abuse during the 2023 Women’s World Cup, highlighting the urgent need for proactive measures to tackle this issue. The SMPS will continue to be utilized at upcoming events, including the Olympic Games in Paris, the under-20 Women’s World Cup in Colombia, the Futsal World Cup in Uzbekistan, and the U17 Women’s World Cup in the Dominican Republic, underscoring the ongoing commitment to protecting athletes from online harassment.

FIFA’s decision to expand access to the SMPS represents a significant step towards fostering a safer and more inclusive online environment for football players worldwide. By leveraging the power of social media tools and collaborative partnerships, the football community is taking a proactive stance against hate speech and online abuse, ultimately promoting respect and dignity among all participants in the sport.

Copa América

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