This is what Sheffield United want to see social media companies do as boycott prepares to start

Paul Heckingbottom, Sheffield United’s caretaker manager, has accused social media companies of “turning a blind eye” to incidents of racism and sexism on their platforms after club s from all of England’s leading men’s divisions and the Women’s Super League announced a four day boycott of sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 6:00 am

Throwing his weight behind the move, which will begin on Friday, Heckingbottom called for users to be required to complete a proper registration process before being allowed to open accounts in order to make it easier for offenders to be tracked down and punished.

United players Rhian Brewster and David McGoldrick who scored the only goal of the game during last weekend’s win over Brighton and Hove Albion, are among those who have been subjected to online abuse in recent months.

“We’ve spoken about it,” Heckingbottom told The Star, when asked if he felt people should be obliged to provide verifiable identification before being able to enroll. “But the platforms won’t do that because it costs them more money. They won’t do that.

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Sheffield, England, 24th April 2021. David McGoldrick of Sheffield Utd and Paul Heckingbottom interim manager of Sheffield Utd enjoy the win during the Premier League match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture credit should read: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“It’s a platform where anybody, seemingly, can say what they want and do what they want. There’ll come a point when nobody wants to go on them, because of the way it’s going. Nobody reasonable anyway.”

“We don’t know yet what it will achieve.” Heckingbottom added. “But the first thing, and the important thing, is that it shows people aren’t happy about the situation.

“What happens gets flagged up and then nobody really does anything about it. The platforms just seem to turn a blind eye.

“It doesn’t just affect those who are targeted. It hurts families and friends too. It’s unacceptable these cowards, because that’s what the people who do it are, can get away with it.”

Speaking after his side were beaten by United, making their first appearance since being mathematically relegated from the top-flight earlier this month, Albion’s Graham Potter also welcomed the decision to “take a stand” against the situation.

“I’m delighted that people are taking stance and that everyone has come together on such an important matter,” Heckingbottom said. “Listen, social media can be fantastic. But it can also be used in a negative way too.”