Instagram should follow Brighton's 'zero-tolerance' lead after Shane Duffy abuse

There’s no place in football for vile, inexcusable abuse. Brighton & Hove Albion’s Shane Duffy has been subject to this type of misconduct since he joined Celtic on loan from the Seagulls in the summer.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 5:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 5:48 pm
Brighton on loan defender Shane Duffy has received terrible online abuse

Last week, social media platform Instagram had announced they weren’t pursuing further action on an account that had sent Duffy sectarian abuse and making light of his father’s sad passing.

However, the platform has now reversed its decision and disabled the account responsible following further sickening messages sent to the Republic of Ireland international. But why did it take a new incident for Instagram to act? And why is social media becoming the breeding ground for racist, sexist, and uncalled for abuse?

With Graham Potter looking to guide the club into a new era, he made the difficult decision to allow former captain Duffy to depart for Scotland.

The move should have been a dream come true for the former Blackburn Rovers defender, but it quickly turned into a nightmare. Then Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, couldn’t match the impressive results and performances from arch-rivals Rangers who have recently been crowned SPL Champions for the first time in 10 years.

Lennon was handed his P45 in the process as Rangers boss Steven Gerrard restored Rangers’s place at the top of Scottish football.

A minority of fans felt that Celtic’s struggles on the pitch gave them the entitlement to send awful and uncalled for abuse to players and Lennon in particular, but the truth is that there is no reason on the planet to direct these types of foul views to anyone.

More often than not these cowards hide behind images that are not of themselves. In Duffy’s case, he had to upload an image of these messages to his Instagram story in order for the company to recognise they made a mistake in not blocking the abuser at the first offence.

Footballers shouldn’t have to face a succession of abuse in order for the abuser to be banned. Who’s to say whether Duffy would have received more of these messages had Instagram banned the account at the first time of asking- but for certain it would have set a precedent.

They should have taken a page out of Albion’s book, who have recently announced they have banned a season-ticket holder who had posted inappropriate and offensive content online.

A major issue these platforms face is that anyone has the ability to open unlimited social media accounts. As a result, if one gets banned for inappropriate behaviour the user can immediately switch accounts and continue their tirade of abuse.

Suggestions have been put forward by prominent figures such as Manchester United captain and England international Harry Maguire, who expressed his opinion that every account that is opened should be verified by a passport or driving license.

This would then give each account accountability for their actions, which seems like the right avenue to go down, and could be the way forward in the future, however, action is needed now.

If a user can be identified then the person in question should be given a banning-order from all footballing events and placed on an educational course.

Footballing bodies and social media companies need to get their houses in order and follow Albion’s lead to stamp out vile idiots who are pretending to be real football fans.