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Instagram boss claims ‘mistake’ allowed vile racism to be hurled at footballers – as star Saka admits he ‘instantly’ expected hate

Instagram boss claims ‘mistake’ allowed vile racism to be hurled at footballers – as star Saka admits he ‘instantly’ expected hate
Instagram boss Adam Mosseri has claimed that monkey emojis sent to England players were "mistakenly" identified as acceptable content by the social media giant platform – and one of the stars targeted, Bukayo Saka, has spoken out.

In an apparent failure to prevent bigotry in the aftermath of the final of Euro 2020 that seemed to verge on endorsement, many users found that Instagram had deemed poisonous posts sent to Three Lions and Arsenal prodigy Saka – including banana, ape and monkey comments – not to be against community guidelines.

Days after much of the damage was done, American-Israeli businessman Mosseri has called emojis "difficult", argued that there will "always be some mistakes" and called it "deliberately misleading and sensational" to accuse Instagram of enabling racism – despite experts pointing out that many of the accounts responsible for ripping into the players are still up.

In his first public remarks since missing the decisive penalty that saw England lose a shoot-out to Italy, teenage livewire Saka directly addressed Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

"I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me, Marcus [Rashford] and Jadon [Sancho] have received this week," he hoped.

"I knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.

"There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society and to the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these comments to the police and by driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win."

A flurry of arrests have been made this week in relation to the abuse, with UK prime minister Boris Johnson vowing that trolls who send racial abuse online will be banned from attending matches.

“We have technology to try to prioritize reports and we were mistakenly marking some of these as benign comments, which they are absolutely not,” Mosseri hit back on Twitter.

“The issue has since been addressed. Reports on these types of comments should [now] be reviewed properly.

“It is absolutely not OK to send racist emojis, or any kind of hate speech, on Instagram. To imply otherwise is to be deliberately misleading and sensational.

“Emojis are difficult, as are words whose meaning changes based on context. Slurs evolve as well, so the work is never done.

"We handle millions of reports a day. If we make a mistake on one percent of them, that’s tens of thousands of mistakes. We need to – and will continue to do – better, but there will always be some mistakes."

Imran Ahmed, the chief executive of the Center for Countering Hate (CCDH), called it "beyond belief" that Instagram's filters had not picked up blatant racism.

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"Of the 105 accounts we identified as having racially abused England footballers, 88 are still up," he told BBC News.

"From its failure to identify monkey emojis as racist, to its flat-out refusal to issue lifetime bans to racists, Instagram – and its parent company, Facebook – have failed to act.

"We have heard enough talk. It's time for the UK Government to follow Germany's lead in passing laws and impose serious financial penalties on firms that give a megaphone to racism and extremism."

Premier League newcomer Saka was still able to reflect on an outstanding tournament as he received support from a wide range of players including fellow Gunners stars Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Folarin Balogun and Emile Smith-Rowe.

"I was hurting so much and I felt like I’d let you all and my England family down, but I can promise you this – I will not let that moment or the negativity that I’ve received this week break me," he said.

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"It was an honour to be part of an England squad that leads by example. They are brothers for life and I’m grateful for everything that I have learnt from every one of the players and staff who worked so hard.

"To help that team reach our first final in 55 years, seeing my family in the crowd, knowing what they’ve given up to help me get there, that meant everything to me.

"For those who have campaigned on my behalf and sent me heartfelt letters, wished me and my family well – I’m so thankful. This is what football should be about.

"Passion, people of all races, genders, religions and backgrounds coming together with one shared joy of the rollercoaster of football. Love always wins."

Also on rt.com Four arrested as ‘hate crime investigation’ underway related to racial abuse directed at England stars Rashford, Sancho and Saka

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