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Exclusive Thierry Henry on social networks: “ When we come together, it’s powerful, ” says former Arsenal star

He made the decision in late March following a wave of racist abuse online targeting black footballers and what he said was the failure of social media companies to hold users accountable for their actions.

“At the very beginning, you know, I was a little weird in the mood, I will say, we talked a lot throughout these times and I was like, ‘People don’t realize what’s at stake here. and the problem we have in this society right now.

“But I was always talking and always mentioning the strength of the pack, and sometimes when you’re alone to shout something, you feel lonely – but I’m not talking about myself, I’m talking about people who don’t. I’m talking about people who have been mistreated, harassed for their appearance, what they believe in, the color of their skin on social media.

“Maybe if I quit social media, as you know, taking a stand for people who may not have a voice, maybe you can create a wave because I’m pulling out of social media. People wanted to know why, and they wanted to know why. But after that, there was a little period where I was like, “Well, it’s a bit of a shame that people aren’t reacting.” “

LILY: Conversation around taking a knee means people are ‘forgetting’ the real cause, says Thierry Henry

Although Twitter and Instagram – which is owned by Facebook – recently announced measures to try to tackle the problem, online racist abuse of black footballers has continued.

When Henry first made the decision to delete his social media accounts, the 43-year-old told CNN he hoped to inspire others to take a stand against racist abuse and bullying online. Five weeks later, his actions have certainly had the desired effect.

Starting at 3 p.m. BST on Friday April 30, clubs from the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship, as well as game governing bodies and organizations such as Kick It Out, will participate in a three-day session. power failure on social networks.

Some of the UK’s biggest media broadcasters, such as Sky Sports and BT Sport, will also be part of the blackout, which ends at 11:59 p.m. BST on Monday 3 May.

“If it [coming off social media] can have a little impact and have an impact … for that you need the strength of the peloton, “said Henry.” So when I saw that this had happened recently, I was actually in it. happy, but I was thinking of all those people who have been waiting for this for a very long time. It’s a great tool, as we’ve talked about, but people sometimes use it as a weapon.

“I love that people realize that when we come together it’s… powerful. I realized that maybe I would get out of it could create a little wave in the media and it does, and get people to answer some questions. So now when I saw what was going on and what was going to happen on the weekend. I was like, “OK, OK, this is a start, this is a start.”

“A lot of people are – I’m not saying wake up because everyone was aware of it – but now they’re loud and the same energy they put in with the Super League. It looks like we’re getting brave to try and do it. answer these big companies to the questions we ask ourselves, and I know it’s not easy on their end either, but it’s your job. “

LILY: Thierry Henry quits social media, hoping to inspire others to resist online abuse

Since the boycott was announced, Twitter and Facebook have reiterated their desire to remove abuse of all kinds from their platforms.

“We don’t want discriminatory abuse on Instagram or Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNN. “We share the goal of tackling this problem and empowering those who share it. We do this by acting on content and accounts that violate our rules and by cooperating with law enforcement when we receive a valid legal request.

“We are committed to tackling hate and racism on our platform, but we also know that these issues are bigger than us, so we look forward to continuing our work with industry partners to tackle the issue. , both online and offline.

Asked by CNN about Henry’s continued absence from their platform, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN: “Racist behavior, abuse and harassment have absolutely no place on our service and alongside our football partners, we condemn racism in all its forms.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that the football conversation on our service is safe for fans, players and everyone involved in the game.

“Racism is a deep and complex societal issue and everyone has a role to play. We are determined to do our part and continue to work closely with valuable partners in football, government and police, as well as the task force convened by Kick It Out to identify ways to collectively tackle the issue. this problem – both online and outside of social media. “

According to Twitter, he tried to contact Henry and would be happy to speak to him.

CNN understands that Instagram is in constant contact with Henry’s rep, before he left social media and since.

Henry tells CNN he hasn’t spoken directly with anyone on Instagram, but says the social media company has been in contact with his reps. Henry declined to meet anyone on Instagram because he has always maintained that the priority for social media companies is to take action to end the abuse.

“Like I told you, we have so, so much discussion,” he says. “I just want some action. That’s all. What are we going to talk about? Tell me what [statement] you just released recently? What is it going to be: a chat, by the way, or are you just going to tell me what’s going to happen. “

Henry says the blackout is a welcome move, but cautions against complacency. He understands this will continue to be an uphill battle and admits he may never see it come to fruition, but he’s steadfast in his commitment to the fight.

“[What] the english football world is doing it by the minute and what is going to happen on the weekend people ask me: “is that enough on the weekend?” And I say to myself: “This is a start”. You know, you can’t be too greedy to have nothing of that, “he said.” It’s a start. But yes, we have a voice, we have a voice absolutely.

“We can actually make people aware of our disapproval and hope that things can change. If you don’t do anything, nothing will ever change. Like I’ve always said, you know, if you try to do something. , you may or may not be successful, but you educate people and along the way you will make an impact.

“Maybe not this year, maybe not in two years, maybe not in three years. Maybe we won’t see it, but you have to do something while you pass.”


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