The Swansea City midfielder Yan Dhanda has criticised Facebook for providing “more fuel for hate” by failing to ban the person who racially abused him on social media. Dhanda received a private message via Instagram – which is owned by Facebook – after Swansea’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday. The account holder has been prevented from sending direct messages “for a set period of time” but Dhanda believes the punishment is an inadequate will not deter others from sending online abuse to players and officials.
Football’s governing bodies continue to lobby social media companies to crack down on discriminatory abuse and this week sent an open letter to Facebook and Twitter, criticising their “inaction” on the issue.
Dhanda, a former Liverpool midfielder, became the latest high-profile player to be abused, with Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe and siblings Reece and Lauren James among those also targeted in recent weeks. South Wales police launched an investigation after Wednesday’s incident and the player has criticised Facebook after learning of the action taken.
“The punishment given to the perpetrator actually gives them more fuel for hate as now they know for sure there are no firm consequences to their actions online,” wrote Dhanda, who is of British Asian background, on Twitter on Sunday. “His DMs may be restricted but the ramifications of his actions continue to ripple through our community.”
Following Manchester United’s 1-1 draw at West Brom on Sunday, Anthony Martial became the latest victim of abuse via Instagram, with a number of users posting racist messages and symbols on his photos. Martial, along with his teammate Tuanzebe, was subject to online abuse following their side’s defeat to Sheffield United last month.
On Saturday Swansea posted a statement expressing their shock at the “leniency” shown by Facebook towards the person who sent Dhanda racial abuse. It read: “The abhorrent level of abuse that we have witnessed this week means that once again we seek stronger action from social media companies in order to stamp this type of toxic behaviour out and we fully back the EFL’s open letter that was sent to Twitter and Facebook in light of recent events.”
Facebook, responding to the Dhanda case, said: “We do not want racism and hate on our platforms. The person who sent this message has been restricted from sending messages on Instagram for a set period of time, and we will remove new accounts created to get around this restriction. We think it’s important people have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes but, per the new measures put in place this week, if they continue to break our rules this account will be removed.”
The English Football League, together with the Premier League, the Football Association, the Professional Footballers’ Association and the Women’s Super League wrote a joint letter to social media networks last week, calling for meetings “to discuss the evidence of abuse on your platforms, the action you are taking, and how you plan to directly address the matters outlined in this letter”.
Swansea continue to offer Dhanda their full support. At the time of the incident, Dhanda tweeted: “How can this STILL be happening in 2021? I’m so proud of who I am and representing Asians. More has to be done!”
The Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said on Thursday he had been made aware of death threats posted on social media, while the referee Mike Dean asked not to officiate a Premier League game this weekend after he and his family received death threats.