Ferdinand: I’ve seen members of my family disintegrate” over online abuse


io Ferdinand has told MPs that he has witnessed members of his family “disintegrate” over online abuse, while the FA has accused platforms of profiting from racism and discrimination.

Abuse on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook has become commonplace for black footballers and other sportspeople, and Ferdinand has been targeted.

In a plea for action, he revealed he had to explain to his four young children why they had seen monkey and banana emojis on his social media pages.

“Your self esteem, your mental health is at risk,” Ferdinand told the home affairs committee inquiry into online abuse.

“It’s important to stress it’s not just about that person. It’s the wider network of that person. What it does to their friends and family.

“I’ve personally seen members of my family disintegrate at times when it happens.

“People say just ignore it, turn it off. That’s what a lot of social media companies say when you speak to them. It’s down to the victim to report it or put the blocks in place by turning certain things off on your device so you don’t see it. That’s not stopping the problem.

AFP via Getty Images

“It’s an easy kop out for social media companies when they put forward ideas like that.

“Any type of conversation is profitable and good for companies.

“If it’s wrong, there need to be things in place to make sure it’s dealt with properly.

“A lot of us have children. I have to sit there and have breakfast with my kids and explain to them what a monkey emoji means in that context and why there’s a banana. Me to have to do that when there’s AI and resources available for these companies to deal with a situation, so I as a parent don’t have to do that.

“You’d like to think these people would put these things in place.

“There’s AI that’s there for so many other different aspects on social media.

“I have a YouTube channel. We have copyright issues if we put a particularly video up that we haven’t had copyright approval for, that works. We can’t find it here for certain emojis, words and terminology on social media platforms.

“It’s baffling. The technology is there.”

/ PA Wire

“When those three black players missed penalties, the first thing I thought was let’s see what happens on social media,” Ferdinand said.

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