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We need to be loud not silent to end social media abuse

Although I’m desperate to stop online abuse and support the No Room For Racism initiative, I didn’t take part in boycotting social media from 3.00 pm on Friday, April 30 until 11.59 pm on Monday, May 3 and hope my analogy will explain why.

Let’s imagine Twitter is a secondary school and one child racially abuses another. The child that was abused tells the teacher and their guardians of the incident, but the school take no action as nobody was there to corroborate the claims.

You contact the school, but they give an excuse to defend their conduct so nothing changes. Everything is fine for a while until another child racially abuses a different pupil, but this time the outcome is different as multiple witnesses back up the allegation.

The child is suspended but returns to school days later without it being brought up again. Guardians are made aware of the situation, but the school insists it’s not a widespread issue and want to sweep this under the rug.

But many other children tell their guardians that they’ve also been racially abused at the same school and claim the teacher was told about the incident but didn’t get around to dealing with it. So there’s a clear problem with racism that is getting worse because of the school’s inaction.

The concerned guardian then makes others aware of the situation, but the majority have no idea there was a problem as their own child denies involvement and denies being abused. They’re blind to the truth because it doesn’t affect them personally, so half the battle is educating them.

They also naively believe the school is working as hard as they can to make it better for pupils and point to that one child being punished as proof. But the dozens of other kids being abused without action being taken suggests they aren’t.

The racist abuse isn’t stopping, so the guardian feels powerless to make it a safe space for their child and eventually removes them until the school addresses the problem.

Unfortunately, that child is now missing out on socialising with classmates because of the actions of another and they’re unable to stick up for their friends that get abused at school too. Nobody wins.

And while other families hear about the boycott and pull their kids out of school in solidarity, nothing has been improved from sitting at home. The kids that racially abused another pupil are still there and now have fewer people willing to stand up to them.

Running away from conflict only saves yourself from witnessing it. It doesn’t stop it happening to others. So rather than leaving the mess for somebody else to clean up, banding together to fix the issue head-on would be much more effective.

Being silent is being complicit because you’re not doing anything to change anyone’s behaviour, so it’s time for a war on racism. You need to get your hands dirty, even if it loses you support for ‘shoving wokeness down their throats’.

Those that have been racially abused are tired of meaningless gestures that gain media attention for a few days and solve very little, like the black squares on Instagram. It’s time for a war on racism.

Boycotting a platform because racists are on it doesn’t fix the problem. They can still tweet abuse without tagging an account. But troll accounts end up disappearing when they get bombarded with people challenging them and reporting to authorities.

We need to push the racists off the platform and only allow them back when they’ve come to terms with their actions and reformed their character. It’s the same with fans that shout abuse in stadiums. Being silent or boycotting games doesn’t stop the offenders turning up and abusing others.

If you call it out and are backed up by others, that person will be removed from the ground, making the space safer for everybody.

In my analogy, the abuser was punished when multiple people witnessed and backed up the allegations. The other abuser went unpunished when people were silent.

So putting unwavering pressure on the authorities will force them to act. Boycotting the platform just leaves a mess for others to clean up. And already announcing when the boycott will end tells Twitter they just need to wait it out until Tuesday and you’ll be back tweeting regardless of the outcome.

There’s no personal judgement on those that are boycotting, but I just feel we should be loud at this time rather than silent.

Thanks for listening.

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