Cyrus Christie hits out at ‘useless’ support over online racist abuse
Fulham and Ireland defender says troll started poll to have him lynched after Denmark defeat
Republic of Ireland’s Cyrus Christie: ‘I had a thing with 15 posts on Instagram and five comments minimum were racist.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Fulham defender Cyrus Christie has no faith in the “useless” support offered by social media companies over racist abuse – revealing someone had started an online poll to have him lynched following an own goal for the Republic of Ireland.
Christie has little confidence in the current system aimed at dealing with online trolls.
In August last year, the Fulham defender alleged his sister was hit and racially abused by a fan during their English League Championship match at Barnsley on the opening day of the new season.
Speaking to the Counter Attack podcast, Christie recalled historical abuse he received on Twitter after scoring an own goal during the 5-1 playoff defeat by Denmark in Dublin, which ended Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
The 27-year-old believes people would be shocked if he detailed the specifics of all the abuse he receives – and highlighted the failure of social media giants to combat it.
I can understand why people don’t pursue things, because you know that nothing is going to happen
“Twitter had got this whole thing about freedom of speech, but they need to kind of change some of their stuff on there because it is not good,” said Christie, who revealed he turns notifications off and blocks abusers to try to avoid a constant stream of abuse.
‘Hide behind profiles’
“They [trolls] think they can get away with, they hide behind profiles.
“I have had so many cases on there, the racism and stuff, it is just mad, but when you speak to them, they are like ‘oh well’.”
Christie continued: “The club [Fulham] have a contact at Twitter and Facebook, so they speak to them, and the police will have a connecting role.
“They are useless – they don’t do anything. I’ve had so many things, but nothing gets done.
“I can understand why people don’t pursue things, because you know that nothing is going to happen.”
The Fulham defender recalled the incident after the Republic of Ireland match during November 2017 and the vile social media abuse which followed.
“It was clear as daylight, some of the stuff,” Christie said. “I had one guy send me four black people hanging from a tree, and with ‘you’re next’ – saying they are going to kill me. And there’s a picture and names there, but . . .
“If I was to put out everything I got, people would be surprised. You say the odd thing now and again – I’ll bring up the odd one – and people are like, ‘rise above it’ and ‘why are you giving them airtime?’
Twitter maintains direct action continues to be taken against accounts which post abusive material
“I am trying to put it out there to show that this is what goes on.
“I had a thing with 15 posts on Instagram and five comments minimum were racist – 15 posts straight, and I am posting once a week on average, so that is a couple of months.
“You can just understand why players just don’t bother. They [social media companies] don’t understand as well because they are not in that position.
“I had the whole thing [after the Denmark game] with a guy who done a petition to have me lynched. His name was there as well and they did nothing about it.
“I sat there for two hours trying to explain to them and they were like ‘we don’t understand how this could happen, I don’t think people are that racist.’”
Twitter maintains direct action continues to be taken against accounts which post abusive material.
“We have clear abusive behaviour and hateful conduct policies in place and we take enforcement of these policies very seriously. We take decisive and swift action on accounts that break our rules,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.
“Throughout this football season in the UK, we have suspended 200 accounts and taken action on nearly 4,000 examples of abuse and hateful content.
“We are continuing to proactively engage and collaborate with our valued partners in football to identify ways to tackle this issue collectively.
“We want to reiterate that abusive and hateful conduct has no place on our service and will continue to take swift action on the minority that try to undermine the conversation for the majority.”