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Soccer-Social media companies must do more to tackle online abuse, says Henry

11/02/2021 | 08:08am EST

LISBON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Former France soccer player Thierry Henry slammed social media giants on Tuesday, saying they had not done enough to tackle online abuse since he quit the platforms earlier this year in protest over their lack of action to combat racism and bullying.

Henry, who had 15 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, disabled his accounts in March, calling on platforms to tackle online abuse with the same effort they put into taking down material that infringes copyright.

Now, around six months since he ditched social media, the 44-year-old former Arsenal and Barcelona player, who suffered racial abuse during his playing career, said things are the same and that he might never reactive his personal accounts.

"They (social media companies) are doing nowhere near what is required for us to feel safe on it - let's be honest," Henry told a news conference at Lisbon's Web Summit.

"It is an essential tool in the world we live in but can it be safe? That's the big thing."

Although Henry is not keen to go back to social media, he is joining forces with sportswear company PUMA to come up with ways to tackle online abuse, including a platform encouraging people to do good by taking on tasks, from petitions to protests.

Platform creator Dylan Ingham described it as a "tool box of social action".

Instagram announced in February a series of measures to tackle online abuse and Twitter said in 2019 that "vile content" had no place on its platform, but experts have warned that the global nature of the problem makes it difficult to take legal steps against the perpetrators.

Henry said he wanted to make sure young Black people followed their dreams and were not put off by the so-called internet 'trolls'.

"That's my message: you shouldn't be stopped by those guys," Henry said. "If you ever feel like you don't belong, you do belong ... nobody can stop you from doing anything you want." (Reporting by Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira; Editing by Ken Ferris)

ę Reuters 2021
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META PLATFORMS, INC. -1.84% 294.63 Delayed Quote.-12.40%
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EV / Sales 2022 5,34x
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