Facebook says it is “horrified” to see the continued online abuse of footballers and has announced tougher measures to tackle the issue.
The social media platform is tightening the rules governing direct messaging on Instagram, a platform it also owns.
It will disable the accounts of those found to have repeatedly sent abusive private messages on Instagram.
Head of content policy Fadzai Madzingira said it was “saddening” to see continued abuse on the platforms.
Madzingira told BBC Sport: “I’m horrified at the type of abuse that people, especially these footballers, have to deal with on the basis of who they are, whether it’s their race or their religion or their gender, and as a company, we’re disappointed to see that sort of behaviour that plays out offline also playing out on our platform.
“It’s why we’re making the announcements today about taking tougher measures to go after accounts that are violating our community standards and our goals within Instagram direct messages.”
A number of Premier League footballers including Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Axel Tuanzebe, West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers and Chelsea full-back Reece James have been subjected to abusive online messages in recent weeks.
The Football Association has called for action from the government, which has since stated social media companies could face “large fines” potentially amounting to “billions of pounds” if they fail to tackle abuse on their platforms.
Asked by BBC sports editor Dan Roan whether Facebook was enabling such abuse, Madzingira said: “No, to imply that it’s about enabling I think would be inaccurate.
“I think that platforms like ours allow communities of people to connect on the things that they love. If we need to have a conversation about hate, it really needs to be not what is just happening on the platform.”
More to follow.