Rio Ferdinand has called for the creation of a new social media platform as he criticized tech giants for failing to get bullying and “toxic behavior” under control. The former England footballer, who suffered racial abuse as a child, said he wanted to prevent his daughters from having the same experience.
He has also backed the Government’s Online Safety Bill, which will allow Ofcom to impose fines of up to 10% of their turnover if they fail to protect children online.
Ferdinand said: “Passing the bill online will be a great start, making social media platforms responsible for much of the hate online. Social media companies haven’t reacted in the positive way we expected, given some of the big news that’s been happening around social media and toxic behavior.
‘I hope the online bill will help with that – I don’t think it will remove everything completely, but we need to take some good steps.’
Ferdinand made the comments while launching an anti-bullying campaign, Don’t Face It Alone, at 10 Downing Street. The scheme, set up by The Diana Award, hopes to ‘eradicate’ bullying after its research shows parents don’t know how to tackle online abuse.
According to a survey of 1,400 people, nearly six in 10 parents feel powerless to protect their children online. A similar proportion of children said they would not tell their parents if they were being bullied online, while less than half thought their parents could help them.
Don’t Face It Alone has been backed by Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, but Ferdinand speculated that a new social media competitor may be tackling online issues.
“Maybe I think another platform might be the answer out of the woods,” he said. “I think inspirational content and inspirational social media is the way to go. A lot of kids now – I have kids myself – go online and try to meet an expectation that isn’t really achievable. Perfect lives, perfect pictures, perfect stories: that’s not achievable and we need to change that.
Boris Johnson thanked Ferdinand and the Diana Prize for launching the campaign, which was backed by the government.
The Prime Minister said: “Bullying in any form is completely unacceptable and can have a devastating impact on young people throughout their lives. The more we do to encourage everyone to speak out against this, the easier it will be to eradicate bullying once and for all.
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