Twitter, Instagram fail to stop racist abuse of England footballers

Occurred: July 2021

Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms failed to stop a torrent of racial abuse hurled at black England footballers after the national team was knocked out of the Euro 2020 tournament. 

The abuse aimed at Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, all of whom missed penalties in England's Euro 2020 final loss to Italy, was condemned by then Prime minister Boris Johnson and the Football Association, amongst others. 

Twitter said it had removed over 1,000 posts over 24 hours and suspended a number of accounts for violating its rules. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri blamed its 'mistaken' content moderation technology for failing to remove thousands of racist comments and images.

Reports indicated that many posts and accounts reported for being offensive or abuse were not taken down or suspended due to the high volume of comments and apparent confusion about whether they violated the platforms' policies and terms.

System 🤖

Documents 📃

Operator: Meta/Facebook; Twitter
Developer: Meta/Facebook; Twitter
Country: UK
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Detect toxic content
Technology: Content moderation system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: December 2021
Last updated: May 2023