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PL Clubs Furious After Being Told Monkey Emojis Don’t Break Rules on Racism

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05 Feb 2021
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Premier League

Premier League clubs have been left furious after Twitter passed a message monkey emojis do not break rules on racism despite a spate of abusive messages.


Several top-flight clubs flagged clearly offensive tweets to the social media giant in which the monkey emoji was used in a hateful manner. However, they were left aghast when they receives responses telling them no action would be taken against the offender as they had not broken Twitter’s regulations.

A number of sources at various leading Premier League clubs have outlined their frustrations with Twitter, which has more than 330 million users and is valued at more than £30billion.

There was further astonishment at one club — who reported a tweet in which a number of their players had been branded ‘f*****g monkeys’.

However, we were subsequently told that while the user’s account had been locked, they did ‘have the option to take actions we’ve requested to have their account unlocked’.

When asked by Sportsmail what those actions were and why the decision was reached, Twitter did not respond.

The platform also failed to respond to questions over the mechanics of their reporting and monitoring service, specifically the involvement of technology, rather than humans, within the process.

It is the understanding of the clubs, who continue to examine ways they can pressure for change, that half of Twitter’s moderation system is run by machines.

It is also understood that moderators are not UK-based and that some racist messages are deemed non-violations as there is a failure to understand the meaning behind the flagged terminology.

There have been instances where clubs have then taken the matter further — to a support manager, who has then escalated it. However, that is viewed as a slow process. ‘It feels like we are going around in circles with them,’ said one frustrated football insider.

In a shameful seven days last week, Manchester United trio Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe, and Anthony Martial were targeted by trolls on social media. Greater Manchester Police are investigating, while United have offered support.

As revealed by Sportsmail on Tuesday, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wrote a personal letter to each of his players and promised more investment in anti-racism programs after defender Reece James was racially abused.

And earlier this week, Hampshire Police launched an investigation after Southampton midfielder Alex Jankewitz, 19, was targeted after he was sent off in the second minute of the 9-0 defeat at Old Trafford.

The Government has since threatened social media companies with fines that could amount to ‘billions’ should they fail to tackle abuse. A key issue is an accountability. Users can still set up accounts by simply providing an email address.

Clubs believe more should be done in this area while some want the provision of identification documents to be a requirement at the creation stage.

The view within the Premier League is that, while there has been engagement and dialogue, more needs to be done and that an alarming number of individual cases continue to slip through the net.

A Twitter spokesperson said that ‘racist behavior’ had ‘no place on our service.’ They added: ‘When we identify accounts that violate any of the Twitter Rules, we take enforcement action.’

The spokesperson also said that the accounts behind the tweets flagged by the clubs had now been permanently suspended.

Despite the experiences of the clubs, Twitter also says their violation policy does include hateful imagery and emojis.


  • Premier League
  • Racism
  • Livescore (livescore)
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