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call for change English football unites in a bid to end online hate a former England keeper speaks out

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English football will unite for a social media boycott from 15:00 BST on Fri 30 April to 23:59 BST on Mon 3 May

English football will unite for a social media boycott from 15:00 BST on Fri 30 April to 23:59 BST on Mon 3 May

English football will unite for a social media boycott from 15:00 BST on Fri 30 April to 23:59 BST on Mon 3 May

Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis believes the time has come for social media companies to show they are serious about tackling online abuse, as she revealed she has been the target of constant online abuse since making the move into TV punditry.

This weekend will football in England unite in a four-day boycott of their social media accounts, beginning at 3.00pm on Friday running until 11.59pm on Monday, with pressure motioning on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to take action against racists and sexist abuse.

Brown-Finnis is backing BT Sport's Draw The Line campaign against social media abuse and she suggested that the time has come for change.

"This weekend is a real marker in the sand to show that from this point forwards it is no longer acceptable and this is what they are going to do about it," she told us.

"We've put the ball in the court of these platforms to do something about it. As a nation, we are not happy with all these instances of online abuse but we've felt powerless to be able to change that. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram don't seem to want to do anything about it, otherwise they would've done it by now.

"It's great to see collective action this weekend. I've always believed that in any context actioning something is showing the real desire to change. Talking is great, but it doesn't do anything. Actioning it shows you want things to move from where they currently are to somewhere else.

"BT Sport's Draw The Line campaign and the anti-abuse policy that they are installing where they want to tell people to spot it, report it and sort it."

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Rachel Brown-Finnis played 82 times for England

Rachel Brown-Finnis played 82 times for England

Rachel Brown-Finnis played 82 times for England

Brown-Finnis has suggested that fans being locked out of stadiums may have contributed to the rise in abuse, as well as calling on the Government to intervene and introduce legislation to ensure there are consequences

"I would like to see a policy similar to what BT has drafted and are going to implement across their social media platforms about blocking and reporting people," he stated.

"I would love to see that coming into Government. It's something I think they need to get a grip of as it's having such a negative impact on people's lives.

"With the year we've had, I think people are turning to social media because they can't be outside and interacting with other human beings. Football fans haven't been able to go to matches and we've seen fans venting frustration at matches and they haven't been able to do that so they've been doing it online."

Reflecting on her own experiences during her career, Brown-Finnis explained how she deals with any abuse that she receives. However, she did also claim she has not done enough herself but thanks to BT Sport she now feels better able to call out any abuse she sees.

"My goalkeeper training has been perfect for dealing with any kind of setback," she added. "If it's not relevant, if it's not going to have a positive impact on my life it goes in the delete bin and that was my mentality as a goalkeeper and it's been a really valuable mental capability to be able to do that.

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"So even though I can ignore it, others are affected by it and we need this to come to an end.

"I've never had anything where I've been threatened, they've just been horrible messages, generally down the sexist route. It's nothing I haven't heard before but it's still not acceptable.

"I think the thing I feel a bit ashamed about now if I'm being honest is that I've seen it happen to other people and I've not really clicked as to how to deal with it.

"I do feel I haven't done my bit which is why I'm so proud to be proud of BT's Draw The Line because I now feel I have got the tools to be able to confidently call people out whether it's sending messages to me or other people.

"Our job is to voice opinions on a subjective sport so our opinions are up for debate. I don't tend to interact too much on social media as I don't want to end up with it being somewhere people just judge people as someone you were born as.

"I appreciate there is a healthy debate to be had on social media. I enjoy seeing that. It's just educating people on what's right and what crosses the boundaries."

BT's #DrawTheLine campaign will see BT Sport highlight the issue of online abuse and introduce an anti-online abuse policy, deleting, blocking or reporting hate and abuse on its channels. For more information visit bt.com/drawtheline

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