Led by English football, on the weekend of Friday 30 April to Monday 3 May, sport united across the world to call on social media companies to do more to stop online abuse. Now the pressure is on social media companies to respond to the change we want to see on their platforms.

The combined following of the accounts, who we know joined the social media boycott and supported our calls for change, is estimated at over 1.7 billion, showing our requests to social media were shared far and wide across the UK and overseas.

Kick It Out, The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, the FSA and Women In Football, led the initial boycott plans. Soon gathering momentum, a range of other sports, organisations and individuals swiftly followed suit.

Alongside football, clubs and governing bodies of other sports across the UK, including rugby, cricket, tennis, cycling, horseracing, hockey and netball all took part, as well as brands, broadcasters and media outlets such as Barclays, Nationwide, Adidas, Nike, Sky Sports, BT Sport and talkSPORT. All formula one drivers boycotted their social channels, including Lewis Hamilton, alongside well-known sporting figures such as Lionel Messi. FA President Prince William also took part, alongside UEFA, FIFA and a number of international football associations.

However, we know a social media boycott alone is not enough. The boycott demonstrated the power of the collective voices involved, and now places pressure on social media companies to step up and use their powers to effect change. Whilst we know that social media brings communities together, and allows people to connect, that cannot be at the cost of others who receive abhorrent online abuse.

As a reminder, below is the change we are calling for, from social media companies:

  • Apply preventative filtering and blocking measures to stop discriminatory abuse being sent or seen
  • Be accountable for safety on platforms and protect users by implementing effective verification
  • Ensure real-life consequences for online discriminatory abuse: ban perpetrators, stop account re-registration and support law enforcement 
  • A warning message to be displayed if a user writes an abusive message and need to enter personal data if they wish to send the message
  • Platforms to have robust, reliable and quick measures in place if abusive material is sent or posted
  • Transparent quarterly reports on the work social media companies are doing, internally and externally, to eradicate abuse on their platforms

We also welcome the announcement of the Online Safety Bill in this week's Queen's Speech and we are calling for it to be enacted in legislation as soon as possible. This announcement represents progress, and we will continue working with Government to ensure measures are put in place as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we are urging social media companies to act now to address abuse on their platforms before regulation is in place.

Sanjay Bhandari, Kick It Out Chair, says: “This boycott demonstrated the collective anger of everyone involved and highlighted the scale of upset across football and wider sport. We are clear on what change we want to see from social media companies, and we will continue our dialogue with them in order to ensure action is taken. We will continue to engage with government too around the Online Safety Bill, and encourage parliamentarians to accelerate this where possible.

We will also remain focused on the welfare of those who play, watch and work in football. We must drive sustainable change in order to protect people and make for a more positive environment online. Online abuse has to stop, and those with power need to act now.”

If you have experienced or witnessed discrimination on social media, you can report it to us through our online reporting form or via our reporting app available on both iOS and Android. You should also make your local police force aware by filing a report here.

You can also report posts to the respective social media channels by using the following links: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | TikTok | Snapchat | YouTube