Why our sports journalists will be backing the social media boycott this weekend

Social media is a powerful tool.

The Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Apps on an Iphone screen.
The Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Apps on an Iphone screen.

It has the capability to spread vital news in an instant. It gives people a platform to make themselves heard. It allows us to hear directly from those we admire and allows us to speak to those in power.

No-one knows this more than journalists. In an age where any event is now instant, we in the media understand the importance of social media and how it shapes our lives, every day.

Everyone has a voice.

However, not everyone chooses to use that voice well.

All too often social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are used to spread the most pernicious forms of hatred.

In recent times, sportsmen and women are at the forefront of those who have been targeted for sickening abuse on the basis of the colour of their skin, their sexuality, their gender and more.

Too many of those sportspeople have been forced to put up with the most horrendous abuse for far too long.

Too many have had to express their outrage at the inaction of some social media companies to properly police their platforms. Too many have had to express their sadness that too little is done to find and punish the perpetrators of such hateful online abuse.

We speak to many of those sportspeople in the course of our work as sports journalists working for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

People like Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa, Romaine Sawyers of West Bromwich Albion and Tyreik Wright of Walsall are just three of the players who have been subjected to awful abuse by those who seek to spread hate.

Individuals targeted simply because of their skintone and because they are in the fortunate position of having a God-given talent for sport that has made them public figures.

However, we must never forget that public figures are human beings; they have personal struggles and problems like everyone else.

No-one should be subjected to the kind of racist, homophobic and misogynistic abuse that we have seen escalate in recent years.

For that reason, the sports journalists of the Express & Star and Shropshire Star will be joining the boycott of social media this weekend in solidarity with those subjected to such horrific abuse.

As journalists, we remain committed to telling and breaking stories from the sports and teams that matter so much to our readers.

Those stories will still be available in print and on our websites, with the best reports, reaction and analysis from our team of superb sports writers updating regularly throughout the weekend as our readers expect .

However, from 3pm today until 11.59pm on Monday we will not be posting those sports stories, or any other messages, on social media.

We recognise social media is a powerful and important tool. But with power comes responsibility.

To those who send such abuse, and to the social media platforms who do too little to end the abuse, the message is clear. It has to stop.

To the social media companies whose platforms are being dragged into the gutter, we say do more to stop the abuse.

To those who have been and are being subjected to such hurt, we stand with you.

That is why we back the boycott.

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