Online Hate

BT launches Draw the Line campaign to end hate speech on social media

For too long, hate speech on social media has been accepted as the norm.

BT has today launched Draw The Line, the start of a multi-million pound BT campaign to address the issue of hate speech on social media and take meaningful action. Hate speech on social media is a growing issue and it’s not good enough for any of us to stand by while online abuse goes unchallenged.

Tthere is no justification that would ever make it okay to abuse another human being because of their gender, the colour of their skin, how they identify themselves, or even simply because they disagree with their opinion.

BT says that this began for BT as a conversation with Facebook and Twitter, and a frustration that more was not being done, and faster, to combat hate speech on social media. And, while progress is being made, it must happen quicker. Any measures to address hate speech in the Government’s proposed Online Safety Bill will not be introduced soon enough.

YouGov research commissioned by BT reveals the true societal scale of abuse on social media:

  • More than one in 10, over 5 million people, have received online abuse over the past 12 months.
  • Online abuse is worse for women, with one in five women that received online abuse saying it was about their appearance.
  • 23 per cent of people who identify as gay or lesbian have received online abuse about their sexual orientation.

These are just a few picked from a shocking set of statistics. And it shows that as a society we need to be more proactive in protecting ourselves and understand what we can do to support others who are being abused. For everyone: our customers, colleagues and country.

BT is Drawing The Line

Draw The Line marks the start of a huge focus in tackling online hate for good, with real, actionable outcomes for today and tomorrow. It will be led by BT Sport across social media channels, with support from rights holders including Premiership Rugby, Welsh rugby regions and Cricket Australia. BT will also be working closely with the Premier League, FA and PFA to share the campaign.

The campaign will see BT implement its own Anti Online Abuse Policy. As part of this, BT says it will proactively respond, delete, block or report hate and abuse to ensure their own social channels are safer spaces for their communities.

BT will also spotlight the issue across BT Sport channels for the remainder of the season, starting with a spot in pre-lunchtime kick-off programming for Crystal Palace v Manchester City on BT Sport 1 tomorrow. This will be followed by a powerful interview with Karen Carney – the first time Karen has spoken on the subject since suffering abhorrent abuse after comments she made as a TV pundit earlier this year – on BT Sport Score on Saturday.

Draw The Line has been developed with support from Glitch, a UK charity making the internet safer for everyone. Glitch training has upskilled the BT team to become active bystanders online, as well as helped develop an AI Abuse tracker tool, which tracks the level of abuse on Twitter. BT found the following:

  • During one 90-minute match there was a 350% increase in abusive tweets in just five minutes as teams failed to score
  • Across all the matches tracked, we observed a 65 per cent increase in religious abuse and a 45 per cent increase in sexual orientation abuse
  • During the course of another tracked match – an average of 1 in 10 abusive Tweets in the UK were sent from ‘troll’ accounts, purposely created to deliver insulting or hurtful messages. A high proportion of participants in our YouGov survey reinforced this saying those who had experienced abuse said it came through troll accounts.

Football clubs, players & sporting bodies social media boycott

The launch of the campaign coincides with football clubs, players, athletes and a number of sporting bodies beginning a four-day boycott of social media in an attempt to tackle abuse and discrimination on their platforms.

The boycott began at 15:00 BST today (Friday) Friday and will end on Monday at at 23:59 BST.

Among the organisations boycotting Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are:

  • Football: Clubs from the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League, Scottish Professional Football League and Scottish women’s football; governing bodies including the Football Association, Scottish FA, Football Association of Wales and Irish Football Association; European governing body Uefa; a number of other football organisations
  • Cricket: The England and Wales Cricket Board, first-class counties, women’s regional teams and the Professional Cricketers’ Association
  • Netball: The Superleague, England Netball, Netball Players Association
  • Rugby union: England Rugby, Scottish Rugby, Welsh Rugby, France Rugby, Premiership Rugby, clubs and the Rugby Players’ Association
  • Rugby league: The Rugby Football League, Super League Europe, Rugby League World Cup 2021 and the Rugby League Players’ Association
  • Corporate bodies: Premier League and Women’s Super League sponsor Barclays, England sponsor Nationwide, Adidas; broadcasters Sky Sports, BT Sport and Talksport

Three weeks ago, Swansea City were joined by Birmingham City and Glasgow Rangers in turning off their social media accounts for a week to make a stand against abuse.

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