Social media discrimination research – March 2015
Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, has published new research revealing the true extent of football-related hate crime across social media after hosting a special event unveiling the findings at Headspace in London yesterday (16 April).
The research, conducted by Tempero, the world’s largest full-service social media management agency, and Brandwatch, a world leading social intelligence and analytics company, focuses on discriminatory messages directed at Premier League clubs, their fans and players.
Carried out in co-ordination with Kick It Out, the research covers all strands of discrimination and looks at the volume of messages issued across publicly accessible social media sources, forums and websites using Brandwatch Analytics between August 2014 and March 2015.
The findings identify the most common forms of discrimination posted across social media towards clubs and players, and the regularity with which this occurs. It also looks at which clubs are the main targets for abuse and case studies have been undertaken on specific players too.
Kick It Out started receiving complaints of social media abuse during the 2012/13 season. The organisation had never dealt with these kinds of incidents before, and after receiving advice from the Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers, started reporting the incidents to True Vision – a national reporting facility which had been developed to deal with hate crime online.
The challenge for Kick It Out was, and still is, that incidents occurring on social media do not fall under any football regulation, which meant that the organisation could not use its normal route of reporting. Kick It Out realised that much of the abuse happening online was left unchallenged, and therefore took steps towards implementing a structure to deal with complaints.
Here is a breakdown of the level of incidents of social media abuse reported to Kick It Out:
12 of these incidents reported by Kick It Out to Police as a Hate Crime
4 responses from the Police
2 reached a conclusion where the offender was identified and action taken
113 of these incidents reported by Kick It Out to Police as a Hate Crime
31 responses from the Police
9 have reached a conclusion where the offender has been identified and action taken (1 led to prosecution and 2 further education sessions delivered by Kick It Out)
Mid-season reporting statistics
73 incidents (between August 2014 and 28 December 2014)
41 of these incidents reported by Kick It Out to Police as a Hate Crime
13 incidents being investigated by the Police
After issuing mid-season reporting statistics
67 incidents (between 29 December 2014 and March 2015)
The research was conducted to measure the volume of discriminatory posts directed at all Premier League clubs and players between August 2014 and March 2015. Therefore, the figures shown below are to be considered as the best estimate of ‘direct abuse’ only.
- The estimated instances of discriminatory abuse amount to approximately 134.4K (16.8K per month)
- Over 95K discriminatory posts directed towards Premier League teams
- Approximately 39K discriminatory posts directed towards Premier League players
The Premier League clubs receiving the highest volume of discriminatory posts is as follows:
- Chelsea (20K)
- Liverpool (19K)
- Arsenal (12K)
- Manchester United (11K)
- Manchester City (11K)
A number of players were selected as case studies to understand the volume of discriminatory abuse they receive. Here are three examples:
– Over 8K discriminatory posts directed at him
– Over 52% of the posts directed at him were racist
– Approximately 1.7K discriminatory posts directed at him
– 50% of the posts directed at him were racist
– Approximately 1.6K discriminatory posts directed at him
– Over 60% of the posts directed at him were discrimination based on sexual orientation
Types of discrimination
The distribution of the messages when broken into the different categories of discrimination read as follows:
Sexual Orientation (19%)
Gender Reassignment (1%)
A look at the gender distribution of discriminatory mentions reveals a large proportion of abuse from men. 78% of mentions come from men and 22% originate from women.
The three cities with the highest volume of discriminatory posts were London (14,273), Manchester (4,498) and Liverpool (3,667) – all areas with large populations and successful clubs contained within.
The virtual location was tracked of the authors of the discriminatory posts revealing the following:
- Twitter 88%
- Facebook 8%*
- Forums 3%
- Blogs 1%
*All private profiles are gated and mentions made on these profiles are not monitored, therefore, they have not been included in this report. As Facebook has the highest number of gated profiles, the amount of authors tracked from that network is significantly lower than Twitter.
What’s the true extent of discriminatory abuse used in relation to clubs and players in the Premier League? Here it is, broken down:
- 134.4K discriminatory posts this season
- 16.8K discriminatory posts a month
- 551 discriminatory posts a day
- 1 abusive mention every 2.6 minutes
Here is the list of games with the largest volume of discriminatory mentions relating to them:
1 – Chelsea v Liverpool, Capital One Cup – 27 January 2015
2 – Sunderland v Manchester United, Premier League – 24 August 2014
3 – Arsenal v Manchester City, Community Shield – 10 August 2014
4 – Manchester United v Arsenal, The FA Cup – 9 March 2015
5 – Liverpool v Manchester United, Premier League – 22 March 2015
6 – Chelsea v Arsenal, Premier League – 5 October 2014
7 – Liverpool v Chelsea, Premier League – 8 November 2014
8 – Manchester United v Liverpool, Premier League – 14 December 2014
The research has been prompted by Kick It Out to help demonstrate the true extent of football-related hate crime across social media. This research was carried out on a pro bono basis by Tempero and Brandwatch, and came at no cost to Kick It Out.
The majority of complaints Kick It Out receives of football-related hate crime posted on social media platforms are made in relation to the Premier League. Therefore, it was decided this would be the focus of the research in order to give a clear insight into the volume of abuse across social media.
Kick It Out is now exploring forming an expert group on how to tackle football-related hate crime across social media. Kick It Out will look to bring together those working within football, the main social media platforms, organisations dealing with internet safety and the Police.