Marvin Bartley criticises social media companies for lack of action over racism

Livingston captain Marvin Bartley is a Scottish Football Association equality advisor
Livingston captain Marvin Bartley is a Scottish Football Association equality advisor (PA Archive)
18:14pm, Thu 29 Apr 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Livingston captain Marvin Bartley has accused Instagram of doing nothing about racism directed towards him on the platform as he demanded action over social media abuse.

Bartley, a Scottish Football Association equality advisor, has backed the game’s united social media boycott from 3pm on Friday until midnight on Monday.

However, he fears the action will be in vain because of the attitudes of social media companies and their fear of losing money if accounts need to be verified.

“It’s been hard, the last year, especially the last six months, it’s got worse and worse by the day,” the former Bournemouth, Burnley and Hibernian player said.

Marvin Bartley (PA Archive)

“Only about a week ago, somebody made a comment on two posts Livingston put up on Instagram quite a while ago. Somebody decided to go back on them and racially abuse me.

“How it left me feeling? To be honest, I was expecting it. With the work I am doing with the Scottish FA, and my stance on racism and different sorts of discrimination, I have been at the forefront of it and will continue to do so. So I was expecting it.

“Now people aren’t even making fake profiles, they are just doing it. I think the profile had 3,000 followers so it wasn’t something that had just appeared overnight.

“The club reported it and Instagram came back and said it didn’t violate their code of conduct. It lets you know where we are at. It was quite powerful stuff that the person had written.

“First and foremost how you can write those words on there, I’m not actually sure, but how Instagram can sit there and say ‘these things are okay’, what chance have we got?”

The Scottish Rugby Union has joined Scottish football’s stance of having a social media boycott, which is following the campaign initiated by English football and backed by a number of other sports.

“Everyone can see that it needs to change,” said Bartley, who called for members of the public to add their collective weight to the campaign.

“The only people that can change it overnight are social media companies but they seem to be sitting on their hands.

“They are obviously not oblivious to what’s going on, it’s in the national press, and the most disturbing thing is these social media companies are obviously sitting in their offices and saying it’s OK, they are not doing anything about it. They are not against it so they are actually for it. How are these people sitting there and actually saying this is OK?

“And there must be people within the hierarchy of colour, of different religions or sexualities and everything else, and how must they feel going into work knowing their bosses actually don’t care?

“And the government aren’t totally out of this either. They can do something about this. You saw when Super League was coming about and they were having emergency meetings and they were going to bring in laws to stop it from happening. Where are they now with this?

“They need to stop sitting on their hands. Let’s be honest, a lot of footballers were thrown under a bus at the start of the pandemic, the boys in England in the Premier League, ‘they had too much money, they should be donating part of that to help’, the boys up here who broke Covid rules. Rightly so, they were punished and we were told to get our house in order. Now it’s time for the government to act.”

Bartley believes there are overnight solutions to some of the problems.

“You could have a green tick for anyone who decided to load their passport or bank card or anything that links them to the account,” he said.

“Some people might not want to be verified. That’s fine, but give me the option to say if you’re not verified, and Instagram or Twitter don’t know who you are, I don’t want you commenting on my post. You can still look at my post but you can’t message me. Why do I not have that option?

“They need to hold people accountable for what they are writing because at the moment nobody is holding them accountable.

“You know what will happen? Someone will end up getting racially abused or about their sexuality or religion and end up taking their own life. Then they will come out and say ‘it’s enough now’. Why do we have to wait for that to happen?

“Do something about it now because it’s not acceptable.”

When contacted by the PA news agency, the press office of Instagram owners Facebook said it was looking into the issue raised by Bartley in his media conference.

A Facebook company spokesperson added: “No one should have to experience abuse anywhere, and it’s against our policies to harass or discriminate against people on Instagram or Facebook.

“We agree with and have already made progress on many of the players’ suggestions, including taking tougher action against people breaking our rules in DMs.”

The spokesperson added that the company was providing new tools to help prevent people seeing abusive messages from strangers and would continue to work with police.

Sign up to our newsletter