Henry says he will rejoin social media when it's no longer a 'weapon'

‘I’ll be back when it’s safer’: Football legend Thierry Henry slams social media companies for allowing users to ‘hide behind fake accounts’ and use them as ‘weapons’ after quitting all platforms in battle against abuse

  • Thierry Henry recently announced he is temporarily quitting all of social media
  • Henry wants companies to bring in more accountability across their users
  • It comes in light of recent abuse of Wales duo Rabbi Matondo and Ben Cabango
  • Henry appeared on Good Morning Britain to note what changes should happen 

Thierry Henry has slammed the giants of the social media world for caring more about copyright infringement of users than the vicious racial abuse and harassment which seems to be growing by the week.

Henry made a stand last week after announcing he would be quitting all forms of social media until the online world became a safer and more easily regulated place.

The football legend is hoping to kick-start some momentum which will cause pressure on social media providers to change their policies and implement a more comprehensive sign-up, and made an appearance on Good Morning Britain in order to explain his views.

Thierry Henry has cranked the pressure up on social media companies with an explosive GMB interview in which he outlined how more is done to address copyright than racism

Henry joined Susannah Reid and Ben Shephard to explain why he has left all social media

Henry told presenters Susannah Reid and Ben Shephard: ”If you know you’re going to get found out, you know you’ll think twice about saying something. A lot of people will hide behind fake accounts. All I want is accountability. 

‘We need to find out who those people are… It is a great tool, but I know a little portion of the world is using it as a weapon. I will be back on it when it’s safer 

‘We’re seeing that it’s not a safe place at the minute, people are getting racially abused. For me when you see the statement, it’s very important, I talk also about bullying and harassment that can cause mental issues.

Wales winger Rabbi Matondo (left) and his team-mate Ben Cabango (right) were racially abused on social media following their friendly win over Mexico on Saturday

The Stoke City loanee tweeted a screenshot of the messages he receieved on Instagram

Matondo was sent several monkey emojis and called a ‘n*****’ by one social media user

People commit suicide because of it. It’s very difficult I know to eradicate everything right, but can it be safer? We all know that it is a great tool. It is a great tool that a lot of people are using as a weapon. Why? because they can hide because fake accounts.’

Henry was compelled to take action after a rapid rising number of cases of online abuse were seen each week. Predominantly involving the targeted racist abuse of professional footballers.

Recently young Wales duo Rabbi Matondo and Ben Cabango found themselves victim to abuse, after the pair highlighted the messages they were sent on their Instagram accounts following the national side’s victory over Mexico.

Stoke winger Matondo shared pictures of the abuse he received on Sunday, tweeting: ‘And it continues… another week of @instagram doing absolutely nothing about racial abuse. My insta will get taken down if I post any clips from my games though… #priorities’.

Matondo had been called a ‘n*****’ by one online user, in a message which was accompanied by a series of monkey emojis. 

The Arsenal legend called on platforms to do more to combat ‘bullying and racism’

A host of stars, including Man United star Fred, have received vile racist abuse this season

Cabango also shared an image of a message he had been sent on his Instagram story alongside the caption: ‘It’s 2021 and it’s still happening.’

Henry outlines that social media companies take issues like copyright infringement much more seriously, purely because of the financial costs involved.

The former Arsenal star added: ‘The platforms have always said, “We’re investigating it, we’re trying to do stuff to eradicate it”, but enough is enough. 

‘I found out that if you want to upload a video with music on social media, they will block it because of the copyright, money’s involved… It’s not a safe place at the minute, people are getting racially abused.

‘If you delete the accounts some people can reopen it. New IP address. The only thing you need is an email and a number to get in. Why can it not be an NHS number or your national insurance number or passport?

‘You mention responsibility but also accountability, there has to be. Everyone is using the word equality at the minute and I truly believe that that’s the case. 

‘I will always talk about my community and I will always talk about my sport, it’s close to home. But also we cannot forget about bullying and not forget about harassment and what it causes.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says new laws will be made in wake of Henry’s statement

‘I will be back on it when people stop using it as a weapon.’

Henry, who recently left his role as Montreal Impact head coach, has 10 million followers on his Facebook page, along with 2.7 m on Instagram and 2.3 m on Twitter.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden last week responded to Henry’s announcement, reiterating the Frenchman’s call before adding that the Government are to introduce laws to make platforms accountable.

He said: ‘No one should have to switch off social media because of abuse. Social media firms must do more to tackle this and we are introducing new laws to hold platforms to account. 

‘This is complex and we must get it right, but I’m absolutely determined to tackle racist abuse online.’

Football has faced growing concerns surrounding the abuse levelled at players on social media platforms, with stars regularly targeted.

Manchester United midfielder Fred received vile racist abuse following the FA Cup quarter-final exit to Leicester earlier in March, in which the Brazilian made an error leading to Kelechi Iheanacho’s opener.

Red Devils team-mates Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe have also been abused online this campaign. 

Arsenal legend Ian Wright was left ‘disappointed’ after a teenager who sent him abuse was not handed a criminal conviction

England international Rashford spoke out after being targeted following United’s draw at Arsenal in January.

He said: ‘Humanity and social media at its worst. Yes I’m a black man and I live every day proud that I am. No one, or no one comment, is going to make me feel any different. 

‘So sorry if you were looking for a strong reaction, you’re just simply not going to get it here.’ 

Match of the Day pundit and Arsenal icon Ian Wright was left ‘disappointed’ after a teenager who abused him on Instagram was not given a criminal conviction. 

Patrick O’Brien, 18, sent 20 vitriolic messages to Wright in May 2019 after losing a game of FIFA. The Irish teenager was given probation.

‘I can only wonder what deterrent there is for anyone else who spouts this kind of vile racist abuse,’ said Wright. ‘I am disappointed. I’m tired. We are all tired.’ 

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