Thierry: Social media giants make money through hate and should be held accountable

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The former footballer, 44, led a boycott of messaging platforms last summer. He told an international web conference that “being genuine [and] nice doesn’t generate money”.

The comments by the former Arsenal and France striker echo the Daily Express’s Unmask The Online Trolls crusade, which campaigns to wipe vicious and cowardly abusers off the internet.

Further efforts to hold firms such as Facebook and Twitter to account over the poison shared on their platforms are urgently needed, the football legend said.

He said tech giants ignored his protests about racism and bullying until thousands of fans joined his boycott of the sites.

Henry, who is now an assistant coach with the Belgian national side, explained: “They didn’t want to talk. But when the boycott happened they wanted to talk to me.”

He told the Web Summit in Lisbon that he decided to act after witnessing online racist abuse directed at soccer stars in England.

But he added: “It can be about race, it can be about discrimination, it can be about bullying, it can be about different stuff.

“I said to myself, ‘What can I do to help? Can I do something to have any impact? Maybe if I come off it, I can be the voice of a lot of people suffering from it.'” The star said that after taking a stand he was called to meetings with the firms and with MPs, as the issue featured in the Queen’s speech.

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Condemning a lack of conscience at the heart of social media firms, he added: “If it doesn’t have an impact on their pocket, they don’t act quickly.”

Henry noted that bosses “are not clear about what can be done” to ensure all social media users operate from verified and easily traceable accounts in a bid to wipe out anonymous abusers. He added: “We need to come together in order to make sure that those people can legislate a law that will make those platforms accountable.”

Fury over online racism peaked after England stars Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bakary Sako suffered a torrent of abuse for missing penalties in the Euros final.

The Prime Minister has vowed to tackle the problem through the Government’s Online Harms Bill after meeting representatives of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat.

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