12:00PM, Thursday 06 May 2021
Maidenhead United joined the social media blackout over the bank holiday weekend as football clubs and the news media shone a spotlight on the awful abuse suffered by players and others working in the game.
The Magpies refrained from putting out their usual social media posts on Twitter and Instagram during the side’s games against King’s Lynn on Saturday and Wrexham on Monday, and stayed silent even when Sam Barratt scored a wonder goal from inside his own half on Monday.
Reflecting on clubs’ important stance, Magpies chairman Peter Griffin (above, right) said social media users need to take a long, hard look at themselves if they contemplate abusing someone online over the result of a football match.
But he added it is also imperative for social media organisations such as Twitter to take their share of responsibility and do more to identify and challenge those who post abusive content that's often misogynistic or racist in nature.
“It’s a problem that’s affecting football but also society,” said Griffin.
“Social media is a really powerful tool but it’s an awful tool when it’s not used rightly. I think the social media companies have got to step up and take responsibility. They cannot absolve responsibility by saying it’s free speech. It’s not. They’ve got to do a lot more to register people properly and identify people who are doing it so these people can’t feel anonymous.
“Social media is giving them the power to do this so I think the clubs are right to highlight this. Clubs can’t do anything about social media, these are international firms, but they’ve got the power to do it and they’ve got to wake up to it because it’s a disgrace the way it gets misused.
“Enough is enough and they’ve got to do something.”
He added: “It’s such a powerful tool for good and there’s so much information on there, whether you’re into football or whatever, it’s easily available, and to not have it there is a blow, but it’s got to be done properly. It’s been rife this year, it’s unbelievable the amount of abuse people get and it’s just got to stop. I’m glad football and others have taken a stance but social media companies cannot absolve the responsibility they've got. They can’t let people just do what they want.”
Billy Presbury, 21, of Moray Drive, and Kai Warwick, 19, of Whiteford Road, targeted a trio of teenage boys in Farnham Park on June 1, 2019.