Social media firms must do more to verify user ID, say Suffolk campaigners

Gareth Southgate Bukayo Saka

Gareth Southgate consoles Bukayo Saka after the missed penalty against Italy - Credit: Laurence Griffiths/AP

Social media platforms should have more rigorous registration so people can be held accountable for what they post - and users must be banned for life for racism.

That's the call from groups in Suffolk in the wake of racist attacks on young England players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho after Sunday's Euro 2020 final.  

Social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, have condemned the racist abuse, but Suffolk organisations say more needs to be done. 

Phanuel Mutumburi, business and operations director at the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE), says that social media users should be “vetted”, and the registration process should be much more rigorous.

He said: “If we are going to hold people responsible for their actions, then we have to be more proactive. People need to have their actual details on social media platforms or their personal details should be shared with social media companies.” 

Franstine Jones, who leads on Criminal Justice and Rehabilitation at another prominent organisation, the Suffolk Black Community Forum, goes one step further adding: “Social media companies have got to identify who these people are, and prosecute them."

She added that users would be deterred if police action was taken. 

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Ms Jones also says that users that do incite hatred should be “taken off social media for life”.

Dr Bill Mitchell, director of Policy at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, the industry trade body, said people should be asked to verify their identity in order to use such platforms, and the IT industry believes this could be implemented without compromising personal privacy.

"Despite the boycotts and some technical changes from big tech companies, some people still see social media as a consequence-free playground for racial abuse - as we saw last night with England players," he said.

"IT experts think these platforms should ask people to verify their real ID behind account handles; at the same time, public anonymity is important to large groups of people and so no-one should have to use their real name online and any verification details behind the account must be rigorously protected."

Twitter and Facebook said they have quickly removed a vast number of racist comments and accounts that break their rules, with a spokesperson for Facebook adding that the company is “committed to keeping our community safe from abuse." 

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