Arsenal and France legend Thierry Henry said the time was right for him to leave social media in the wake of increasing instances of footballers receiving racist abuse online, telling the BBC on Monday that “it is not a safe place.”
Henry announced last week that he will no longer be using social media until the platforms do more to tackle racism and bullying online as footballers such as Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe (twice) and Lauren James have all been subjected to racist abuse over the past few months.
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“It was time to make a stand,” Henry said on BBC programme Newsnight.
“Things I used to hear in the stadiums and the streets are coming more and more into social media, especially in my community, and the sport I love the most, football.
“I thought it was time to make a stand and time to make people realise it is not OK to get abused online, it’s not OK to be bullied or harassed online.
“The impact it can have on your mental health is second to none, we know people are committing suicides because of it. Enough is enough. We need actions.
“It is too easy to get an account and get away with it at times.”
The English Football Association has also called on social media companies to introduce strategies to curb online abuse on their platforms. Last month, Instagram announced a series of measures to address the problem but Henry suggested more reforms need to be enacted.
“It is not a safe place,” Henry said. “[Crystal Palace forward] Wilfried Zaha says when he goes on social media he is scared to look at the comments, it should not be like that. It should not be like you feel you should not do something.
“I think everybody should be concerned about what’s happening. All I’m saying is, ‘can it be a safe place?’ At the end of the day it is a great tool and is vital and a great way to connect with your fans, or to put out a statement to rectify something.
“But it is too easy for the people who are trying to harm people to get away with it and hide behind fake accounts. For me it is about accountability.”