Premier League star Wilfried Zaha says he’s ‘scared’ to open Instagram due to number of racist messages

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Wilfried Zaha playing for Premier League side Crystal Palace.

Premier League star Wilfried Zaha admits he’s “scared” to open Instagram due to the number of racist messages he receives.Earlier this month, a 12-year-old boy was arrested in connection with racist threats made to the Crystal Palace forward via Instagram’s direct message service, including an accompanying image of the Ku Klux Klan.Zaha says he’s been forced to remove Twitter from his phone as the torrent of racist abuse becomes unbearable.”For Black footballers for instance, being on Instagram is not even fun for us anymore,” Zaha told CNN’s Darren Lewis. “You’re not enjoying your profile because I’m scared to even look up my direct messages anymore. It could be filled with anything.”I don’t even have Twitter on my phone anymore because it’s almost certain that you’re going to get some sort of abuse, especially after games and stuff, because it happens so freely.”That same 12-year-old boy contacted like three other players, racially abused three other players as well, in my team. So it’s like, this is not OK. Even after I reported the abuse from the 12-year-old, I think I reported 50 accounts I got racially abused from, after the stuff that I got before.”Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has come in for criticism for not protecting Black footballers from the racist abuse they receive on their platform.

Last week, Facebook and Instagram announced they would each be setting up a team to fight racism on their platforms and assess whether there is racial bias in their algorithms.”Racism is not tolerated on Facebook and Instagram,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNN. “When we find content that breaks our guidelines we will remove it and we will ban those who repeatedly break the rules.”We take this issue seriously and invest billions of dollars in people and technology to help remove harmful content at scale. Last month, we also introduced a new safety feature that allows public figures to prevent people they do not know from sending them a message.

“Facebook told CNN that it is working closely with clubs, players and anti-racism organizations such as Kick It Out to investigate racist abuse and take appropriate actions, while Twitter says it has “suspended nearly 300 accounts and taken action on nearly 6,000 examples of abuse and hateful content.”However, given the ease with which anonymous accounts can send him racist abuse, Zaha questions how effective these strategies are.”What happens after that account gets blocked?” he says.

Wilfried Zaha takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the matcha against Burnley.

“Then they just make a new account straight after. I’ve tried to block people so many times and I’ve looked on Instagram for the option to block them for racial abuse, but there isn’t that option there.”That doesn’t come up, it has harassment [and] different stuff, but there’s no racial abuse option that comes up. I feel like with everything that we do in life, with everything we register to, we have to give some sort of ID. So why is it not the same with Instagram, why is it not the same with Twitter?

I feel like enough is enough and I’m among a load of people who have had racial abuse and I’ve had racial abuse all my life. But it’s a thing where for right now, I’ve got a platform where I feel like if I can make a change, I’ll try.” Says KABASELE Christian.

Facebook says requiring users to provide ID could lead to exclusion for disadvantaged social groups which do not have easy access to official documentation, while the ID standard and verification processes differ greatly from country to country. Twitter didn’t respond to CNN’s request for comment.

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