Instagram, Twitter and Facebook - social media giants don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt | Matt Mohan-Hickson

We need to demand more from social media companies

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 8:44 am
Marcus Rashford of Manchester United and England has been targeted by online trolls. Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

I am extremely lucky.

I am yet another straight white man on social media.

I will never have to worry about opening up my Instagram or Twitter and be inundated with racist abuse.

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There is not going to be a flood of unwanted sexual advances in my messages from random accounts on the internet.

I get to live a fairly beige experience online, occasionally sharing a food photo on Instagram if I remember to take pictures of my cooking or posting milquetoast opinions about sport/ TV and attempts at jokes on Twitter.

But for so many others the experience on social media is much, much darker.

It has felt like the dam has been close to bursting over the last year. After every single round of the Premier League it feels like there has been another story about players suffering racist abuse on some platform or another.

A police force might make an arrest or two, but come the next week it is the same story just with a different player.

Has it always been this bad? Probably yes.

Marcus Rashford has been one of the most inspirational figures in the country over the last 14 months, most of us can only dream of helping people the way he has since the pandemic began.

Not only has he forced the government to continue feeding impoverished children – ludicrous that they needed forcing to begin with – but he also topped the Sunday Times giving list after giving away £20m. Twenty Million Pounds.

Yet he still has to put up with abuse from knuckle-dragging morons online.

We saw clubs take part in the social media boycott towards the end of the season, but have the companies actually responded?

Have Instagram, Facebook and Twitter made any real efforts to clamp down on racist abuse – or abusive content in general?

It doesn’t seem like it, they seem to have a laissez-faire attitude to the issue – at least from the outside looking in.

We have the Euros coming up this month. Will non-white England players, and those of other countries, have to be subject to foul abuse if they make a single mistake?

The time for giving social media companies the benefit of the doubt has long been over. Inaction is a choice in itself after all.

I forgot how much I love playing football

I have been meaning to get round to playing five-a-side football since I finished university back in 2014.

But life has a habit of getting in the way and there are always excuses to put it off.

‘Oh I’m just getting settled in; work is just far too busy right now,’ etc.

So before I knew it, seven years passed and I had yet to actually play football again.

However a couple of weeks ago I found myself on a five-a-side pitch once again.

I was quickly reminded why I am a writer and not a professional footballer, but then again the vast majority of people in this country are not pro-footie players.

But once I became reacquainted with my many footballing inadequacies, I remembered just quite how fun this sport is: the pure, animalistic thrill of competition.

I had forgot how exciting it is to just sprint up and down a football pitch, to chase down every ball, to find yourself with space and then finally get the chance to shot before completely skying it.

It is totally worth the aches and pains that come the next day.

The disappointing return of one of my favourite shows

The first two seasons of Netflix’s Master of None are among my all-time favourites.

I have rewatched them several times over the year, something which is rare for me.

They were bursting with personality and a sense of specificity, as well as the occasional trappings of more art house cinema – including one episode which pays homage to Bicycle Thieves.

So when a third season finally showed up after a four year hiatus, to say I was excited would be an understatement.

However it turned out to be utterly disappointing. Star Aziz Ansari had moved behind the camera and it changed focus to follow supporting character Denise.

But somehow she was no longer the same character I remembered, her edge had been dulled down – and while the cinematography was gorgeous, it was glacial and purposeless.

I couldn’t quite believe it was supposed to be the same show.

Naomi Ackie was absolutely incredible as new character Naomi however. But I’m not sure I would recommend watching it.