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Post some Premier League footage on Twitter and it will be taken down within hours.
Send racist abuse to a Black footballer online and it will stay up for days. It really does appear to matter more if there is money in it.
When the social media companies wring their hands and insist they are bending over backwards to address the problem, perhaps they could explain why that remains the case.
Online racial abuse isn’t any more of a problem because national treasure Marcus Rashford is getting it again. Nor should we in the media industry be framing it as such.
It needed this energy and anger last year when Rashford and the Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha were receiving it, as highlighted in Mirror Sport.
Or the year before when Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings and Watford’s Troy Deeney were among the many players getting it. Or the year before that when the likes of Fulham full-back Cyrus Christie was getting it.
Maybe even last week when the likes of Manchester United rookie Axel Tuanzebe and Chelsea’s Reece James were on the receiving end.
Lower profile players and female stars have been suffering with online racist abuse for years. Away from football Black people have been using the mechanisms for reporting online abuse for years only to find terms like the ’n’ word do not breach the guidelines.
The ugly truth about football is that with supporters currently unable to go to games, the racial abuse that would otherwise be drowned out by 50,000 fans at a stadium is now flooding through the sewers of social media.
With their lax controls, Twitter and Instagram are perfect for the purveyors of hate to hide in plain sight.
At least Rashford, with his 4.1million followers on Twitter, his 9.7million followers on Instagram and his ability to influence government policy, managed to get a quick statement out of both organisations within 12 hours.
The social media companies don’t even see the lesser-known Black footballers, let alone the ordinary Black people crying for help.
The statements they issue include always the usual sound bites and truisms, insisting there is no place for racism, yada, yada, yada. It is almost as if they see the broadcast media organizations coming.
They’ll also point you to the numbers of accounts they’ve supposedly removed or suspended. But the truth is that they are not vigilant enough. Nowhere near.
If they were then they’d have acted swiftly when a media colleague was called a jungle bunny – a widely-known racially offensive term. Twitter insisted it didn’t breach their policy and left it up.
If they cared they’d have developed an algorithm by now to target trigger words, offensive terms and offensive emojis. In theory, users would be told that the post is being monitored for context to almost warn them that action will be taken if it does end up being abusive.
Providing personal information, or surrendering even more of our personal data to the social media companies is perhaps not the solution we – including this column initially – might think it is.
Nor is the ludicrous idea of coming off social media. Why should someone be driven off social media by racist abuse? Why would you disadvantage the victim when a crime – and racism is a crime – is being committed against them.
The way forward is accountability. Just as footballers are seizing their commercial power to deal with the problem of racism within the game themselves, so they should use their energies to find the racists and take private legal action.
That idea, put forward by Sam Allardyce after West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers was abused last week, is at least a step up from Premier League bosses trotting out the same old stock phrases that for years showed them to be tone deaf on the issue.
The social media companies should be getting their act together but they won’t. So, in this era of change, it is down once again to the footballers themselves to take the legal action that proves to racists there is no place to hide.
This content was originally published here.