Twitter removes accounts engaged in ‘racist abuse’ of Black English soccer players

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Twitter on Monday said it is taking action on the growing score of racist posts targeting Black players on the English national soccer team after it lost the UEFA European Championship final to Italy on Sunday.

In a statement to The Hill on Monday, the social media company condemned the “abhorrent racist abuse” directed at the players and said the attacks have “absolutely no place” on its platform. 

“In the past 24 hours, through a combination of machine learning based automation and human review, we have swiftly removed over 1000 Tweets and permanently suspended a number of accounts for violating our rules — the vast majority of which we detected ourselves proactively using technology,” a Twitter spokesperson said in the statement.

The representative added that it will continue to take action when it identifies any tweets or accounts that violate its policies.

Three Black players on England’s national soccer team — Marcus Rashford, 23, Jadon Sancho, 21, and Bukayo Saka, 19 — became the target of racist abuse late Sunday immediately after their team’s loss.

The abuse drew rebukes from a number of English officials, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who called the attacks “appalling.”

The Metropolitan Police also said authorities will be investigating the “offensive and racist” social media posts published following the match-up.

The English Football Association joined many others in condemning the “disgusting behaviour” seen online and said it will do all it can “to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”  

The group also pushed social media companies to step up their efforts to address these kinds of issues and ban abusers from their platforms, while also collecting evidence they said could “lead to prosecution and support making their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.” 

Twitter said on Monday that it has and will continue to collaborate with its partners “across the football community to identify ways to tackle this issue collectively.”

The company also said it will keep working to play its role in “curbing this unacceptable behaviour — both online and offline.”

Chris Mills Rodrigo contributed to this report.

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