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Steven Gerrard hopes the penny drops for social media companies during boycott

Rangers v St Johnstone – Scottish Cup – Quarter Final – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard hopes the penny drops for social media companies as Scottish football joins a mass sporting blackout of platforms.

A number of Gerrard’s players have received regular racist abuse on social media in recent weeks after Glen Kamara was insulted in a Europa League match in an incident which saw Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela banned for 10 matches.

Scottish football and rugby and other sporting organisations started a social media boycott at 3pm on Friday which will continue until midnight on Monday, in a bid to force tougher action and controls.

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Gerrard said: “You hope that the big social media companies are going to listen and take note.

“I think the more noise that we try and make together and send a message that we are going to try and keep pushing for change.

“That is the hope, that one day the penny will drop and people will start taking this seriously and help make things better.”

Hibernian head coach Jack Ross feels strongly about the issue after seeing the effect on some of his players.

“Raising awareness and trying to educate people is important but until we make people accountable for using these platforms and then they are punished for behaviour which goes way beyond what is acceptable, I don’t think it will make any difference, and that is for powers way beyond me to look at,” Ross said.

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“Some of the stuff is ridiculous but if you are able to do that anonymously without fear of punishment, losing your job, criminal record, whatever it may be, embarrassment, shame, then people will continue to do it.

“I am not really an active user of social media but I recognise the importance of it in peoples’ lives and I recognise the influence it has professionally and it can be brilliant in terms of the information available, the insight it gives you into people, the platform offers for opinion and debate and also how it allows people a form of interaction they might not always get from their own circumstances, so there is a great deal of positives from it.

“But at times it is a real vile platform as well. Some of the stuff that is articulated on it, and I am not just referring to racial or religious abuse, some the stuff that my players get sent at times referring to themselves or families is way beyond the pale.”

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander added: “Hopefully action will be taken because it affects everybody’s life. Even though I’m not on social media, the closest to me are, so anything that is aimed towards me, I eventually get to hear about it.

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“I think it encompasses 90 per cent of the population. It’s such a big phenomenon now that it has to be controlled.”

Kilmarnock boss Tommy Wright is not a fan of social media.

When asked how he would deal with the problem, he said: “Ban the lot of it would be the best way, educate people, and then maybe bring it back in 20 years’ time when people are better educated.

“It’s a massive problem. I think the ban highlights it but it will be the same next weekend. It will not change.

“It needs tighter controls, it needs governments to take control of it in terms of how to punish all forms of abuse. But ultimately there has to be education in the schools and that will be a long, long process.

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“I have worked as a youth development officer and heard things in schools and the only way the kids could have heard them is from their parents.

“There has to be good parenting and better education in schools and if anyone thinks it’s going to go away in a click of a  finger, it won’t.

“Social media has its good parts in life but I think it is outweighed by the bad parts. It’s not something I want to have.

“Sometimes you are called a dinosaur for doing that, but sometimes how people behaved in the past is better than the way we are living in the present.”

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