Leighton Buzzard children's charity joined social media blackout to raise awareness of online abuse

KidsOut chief executive says verification steps will enable users to be held to account if they spread hate

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 4:44 pm

Leighton Buzzard-based KidsOut joined a number of high-profile football teams on a week-long social media blackout recently to raise awareness of online abuse.

The Church Square charity mirrored the steps taken by the likes of Swansea FC, Birmingham City FC and Glasgow Rangers FC to highlight the problem of abuse and to protect the mental welfare of children escaping domestic violence.

KidsOut says online abuse through social media outlets has been a talking point for many years with next to nothing or little action being taken upon the users spreading hate.

It is supporting the idea for basic verification of users as part of the sign-up process which will help towards holding users accountable for their words and actions.

Between 5pm on Monday, April 12 and 5pm on Monday, April 19, KidsOut did not post to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Chief executive Gordon Moulds said: “KidsOut strongly supports the stance of footballers and their clubs in calling for social media companies to do more for online abuse. As a national children’s charity dealing with children who have suffered domestic violence, we are well aware of many examples of social media being used by children to bully other children.

"The impact on the mental health and welfare of the victims of online bullying is well documented. For this reason, we are supporting the call for the basic verification of users, as part of the sign-up process, to any social media platform, which will ensure that users are both identifiable and accountable for their actions and words.

The boycott took place earlier this month

"If they don’t we also believe it is time for the Government to step in and legislate change so social media platforms begin working proactively in the interests of wider society. Along with online bullying and daily racists attacks on players and individuals, this is only part of the problem, other issues lie with the toxic and misleading content social media platforms fail to acknowledge.

"The impact this can have on a young person’s mental health is devastating with many suffering from low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.

"Twitter, Facebook and Instagram’s lack of corporate social responsibility in this area, driven by their bottom line, will only change through a national concerted effort. Asking that users of their platforms are able to be identified and held accountable for their words is little in comparison with the positive effect it would potentially have. It may not stop the abuse, but it will significantly reduce it and be a major first step."

Another social media boycott by football clubs and governing bodies is due to take place this weekend to support the fight against online racist abuse.