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‘Social media firms failing on hate should be forced to listen to Rio Ferdinand’

Ex-Manchester United and England star Rio Ferdinand spoke eloquently of how he is a frequent victim of online racial abuse – social media firms can take days to remove racist content

Rio Ferdinand today gave evidence to the joint committee seeking views on how to improve the draft Online Safety Bill designed to tackle social media abuse

The bosses of the biggest tech firms should be forced to listen to what Rio Ferdinand told MPs today.

The ex-footballer spoke eloquently of how he is a frequent victim of online racial abuse and told of its impact on his friends and family.

He is paying the price for the failure of the social media firms to remove the hate and discrimination that pollute their platforms.

These firms, so quick to delete videos infringing copyright, can take days to remove racist content. All too often it just stays online.

For too long the interests of people have been secondary to the pursuit of profit.

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The Online Safety Bill offers the chance to force the social media giants to clean up their act or risk multi-million pound fines.

But the legislation is focused on online safety and does not include a specific offence of racist abuse. Ministers need to update and strengthen the wording of the Bill.

A cruel policy

Next month the Government plans to withdraw vital financial support to more than five million families.

The ending of the £20-a-week increase in the Universal Credit will drop an additional 500,000 households into poverty. Among those people are more than 200,000 children.

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Ministers are pressing ahead with the cut despite an internal government analysis revealing its likely impact as catastrophic, leading to a rise in poverty and homelessness and more people turning to foodbanks.

Governments should improve the lives of citizens. But by pressing ahead with this cruel policy, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak will be deliberately inflicting pain and destitution.

Have a heart

On Friday, MPs have the chance to back a Bill making it a legal requirement to have defibrillators in all public spaces.

We urge politicians on all sides to support this legislation.

It would be life-saving for those suffering heart ailments at public places, and life-changing for their friends and family.

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