Swansea striker Morgan Whittaker says he was not shocked after receiving online racist abuse following his goal in Saturday’s game against Derby because he expected to be targeted.
Police are investigating after the 20-year-old was sent “vile racist abuse” after scoring against his former club in Swansea’s 2-1 win at the Liberty Stadium.
Whittaker is the fourth Swans player to be racially abused on social media since February with team-mates Yan Dhanda, Ben Cabango and Jamal Lowe all recently targeted.
Whittaker said after seeing some negative comments after Saturday’s game in the changing room, team-mate Lowe told him to also expect abuse of a racist nature.
“It’s expected. In the changing room after the game, I showed a few lads some messages on my phone, not racist ones, but people saying I had celebrated my goal too much,” he said.
“Jamal Lowe said to me, ‘you will probably get some racist messages’. And then I get back to that message. It’s just so expected now.
“I was buzzing from the game, getting the three points and a goal. My family was down watching the game and spending the weekend here. I got back and my girlfriend said to me there has been a message sent on Instagram and it is not very nice.
“Honestly I did not feel anything, I wasn’t shocked that it happened, I was expecting something along these lines. For her to hear that, it’s not right, but I was coming back and expecting something like that when all I have done is my job, helping my team get three points.
“I wasn’t shocked at all, I didn’t want to let it ruin what had been a good day for me.
“I can’t go into it fully because it is being investigated by the police but it was not very nice. It was personal to my heritage and where I am from.
“What made it worse was that it was from a fake account so I don’t know who this person is. Someone was able to make an account in a minute and then send a message like that without any consequence.”
Whittaker does not believe the tools in place on Instagram do enough to protect users from messages from potential anonymous abusers.
“I don’t think the tools are there to protect anyone. The guy or girl who messaged me on Instagram did it from a fake account, their username had a racist word in it,” he said.
“If they can make a username with a racist word in there, then they are obviously not protecting anyone.”
A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement to Sky Sports News: “Morgan didn’t report the DMs he received in-app, and so far we’ve been unable to review them and take action. Because DMs are private spaces, we don’t proactively look for hate speech the same way we do elsewhere – and we need permission to review content there.
“That’s why we have given public figures the option to not receive messages from people they don’t know – and we are rolling out the new tool which, when turned on, will automatically filter DM requests containing offensive words, phrases and emojis, so you never have to see them.”
Facebook have declined Sky Sports News’ invitations to address issues around online hate in an on-camera interview.
The abuse came on the weekend when football clubs and other sporting bodies were boycotting social media because of a lack of action in combatting the issue.
Swansea staged their own week-long social media blackout in early April, which was joined by fellow second-tier club Birmingham.
Whittaker says he is disappointed to have received the messages during the boycott and believes Government intervention is the best way to tackling the problem.
“It’s a hard question, we’ll boycott it for a weekend and obviously it’s not worked with the messages I was sent. All the biggest teams and players went on the boycott and it still hasn’t worked,” he continued.
“Maybe not doing it for a weekend but for a month or longer? The more money social media companies lose out on is the only way we are going to get to them.
“The only option we have left is (relying on the government). Really they are the only ones who can do anything for us. It’s what we have left to try.”
The Football Association has called on the Government to introduce legislation to compel social media companies to do more to stop online abuse following the sport community’s four-day boycott.
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