Thierry Henry demands more verification from social media companies over online

Thierry Henry is urging social media companies to ask for more details when setting up profiles, so users can be held accountable if abusing people on their platforms.

The former Arsenal and Barcelona striker was the first major sportsperson to take a stand and boycott social media, saying he will remain off those platforms until online abuse is regulated “with the same vigour and ferocity” that copyright infringements are.

Henry’s action created a wave among the wider sporting community and helped drive an industry-wide boycott.

Sky Sports, alongside governing bodies, clubs and fellow broadcasters across UK sport, will not post any sports content to its channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Tik Tok for the duration of the boycott period from 3pm on Friday April 30 until 11.59pm on Monday May 3.

“I am not going to sit here and say that I started anything. I was aware that me coming off social media could create a wave,” he said on Redknapp’s Big Night Out, when asked about his decision to come off the platforms.

“It is a problem that we have in our society, not only just racism. Right now a lot of people are having mental health issues when they get abused online.”

Henry believes adding greater levels of verification could be the answer to deterring abusers from creating anonymous accounts.

A number of the abusive messages to athletes have come from accounts where an individual hides behind a pseudonym, and it has been repeatedly mentioned within football that social media companies should prevent anonymous users.

Henry continued: “How can you tell me that you cannot know who is behind this account? Surely it needs to be verified?

“If you want to open an account I would like to think that you should be asked for more than a phone number and an email address. It’s a great tool, but can we be safe on it?”

Twitter has previously said it will not end the practice of allowing people to post from anonymous accounts.

Defending its policy earlier this year, Twitter said: “At Twitter, we are guided by our values, and never more so than when it comes to fundamental issues like identity.

“We believe everyone has the right to share their voice without requiring a government ID to do so.

“Pseudonymity has been a vital tool for speaking out in oppressive regimes, it is no less critical in democratic societies. Pseudonymity may be used to explore your identity, to find support as victims of crimes, or to highlight issues faced by vulnerable communities.

“Indeed, many of the first voices to speak out on societal wrongdoings, have done so behind some degree of pseudonymity – once they do, their experience can encourage others to do the same, knowing they don’t have to put their name to their experience if they’re not comfortable doing so.

“Perhaps most fundamentally of all – some of the communities who may lack access to government IDs are exactly those who we strive to give a voice to on Twitter.”

Redknapp’s Big Night Out continues tonight at 10pm on Sky One and TV streaming service NOW.

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