Livingston captain Marvin Bartley says social media abuse gets 'worse by the day' and action must come immediately

Marvin Bartley fears social media abuse of players could one day have tragic consequences and lead to someone taking their own life; Bartley: "Why do we have to wait for this to happen? Do something about it now because it's not acceptable."

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Scottish FA Equality Advisor and Livingston captain Marvin Bartley says abuse on social media could lead to someone taking their own life unless companies do more to stop it

Livingston captain Marvin Bartley has warned that social media abuse could lead to someone taking their own life unless action is taken soon.

Bartley, who also works as an equality advisor for the Scottish FA, says he's "had enough" of waiting for social media companies to act.

Bartley believes social media abuse is getting "worse by the day" and has welcomed this weekend's social media boycott, which will see the wider sporting community, including Sky Sports, post zero sports content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Tik Tok from 3pm on Friday April 30 until 11.59pm on Monday May 3.

"What will happen is somebody will get racially abused or about their sexuality and they'll end up taking their own life," Bartley said.

"Then you know what will happen? They [social media companies] will come out and say: 'It is enough now'.

"Why do we have to wait for this to happen? Do something about it now because it's not acceptable.

"I don't care about the blowback that I get from this because I've had enough."

Fulham manager Scott Parker prior to kick-off during the Premier League match at Craven Cottage, London. Picture date: Saturday March 13, 2021. 1:05
Fulham head coach Scott Parker wants the power of sport to spur social media companies into taking stronger action against online hate, ahead of this weekend's boycott.

Bartley revealed he was recently racially abused by a user with 3,000 followers and the account was reported to Instagram.

"Only a week ago someone made a comment on two posts that Livingston had put up on Instagram a while ago," he said. "Somebody had decided to go back through them and racially abuse me."If I'm honest, I was expecting it. With the role I'm now doing with the Scottish FA and my stance on racism, I've been at the forefront of it.

"Now people aren't even making fake profiles, I think [this account] had 3,000 followers so it wasn't something that had just been made overnight."

Facebook, who own Instagram, say they have disabled the account involved and removed violating comments.

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EFL chief executive Rick Parry says this weekend's social media boycott will not solve the problem of online abuse, but anticipates it will be 'incredibly powerful'

Commenting on this weekend's social media boycott, Bartley said: "I support anything that's going to try and bring about change, with all the problems that people are facing on social media.

"It's been hard. Especially in the last six months, it's got worse and worse by the day.

"Seeing the football family, as well as sponsors, stick together and try and make a change, we've all had enough."

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Thierry Henry urges social media companies to ask for more details when setting up profiles, so users can be held accountable if abusing people on their platforms. Pictures from 'Redknapp’s Big Night Out.'

Bartley has called on social media companies to introduce verification options on their platforms, giving users the opportunity to stop unverified accounts commenting on their posts.

Asked what he would say to social media companies, Bartley said: "I'd be asking: 'Why are you allowing this to happen?' Because they are allowing this to happen.

"Secondly, I'd say: 'Why can't people be verified?' You can have a green tick for those who load their passport or anything that links the account to them so it gives me the option to say: 'If you're not verified then I don't want you commenting on my post.'"

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PFA equalities education executive Jason Lee has urged fans to join the social media boycott to help highlight the fight against online abuse.

A spokesperson for Facebook told Sky Sports News: "No one should have to experience abuse anywhere, and it's against our policies to harass or discriminate against people on Instagram or Facebook.

"We agree with and have already made progress on many of the players' suggestions, including taking tougher action against people breaking our rules in DMs.

"We also recently announced that, starting next week, we'll provide new tools, based on consultation with footballers and anti-discrimination experts, to help prevent people seeing abusive messages from strangers.

"We continue to work with UK police on hate speech, and respond to valid legal requests for information, which can be essential for investigations. We'll continue listening to feedback and fighting hate and racism on our platform."

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