Social Media Blackout

Manchester Thunder to take part in social media boycott against online abuse

England Netball, the Netball Players Association (NPA) and Manchester Thunder are standing with football and the wider sporting community by taking part in a social media boycott from 15:00 on Friday 30 April to 23:59 on Monday 3 May.

The Draw the Line campaign social media boycott is the first stage of a multi-million pound campaign in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory online abuse targeted at professional athletes and others in sport, which will not be tolerated nor accepted in any part of our game.

We expect our platforms and those of the #ThunderFamily to be free from hate, abuse, racism or any kind of harassment. We want our channels to be a space for people to come together and celebrate the sport we love. We know that social media companies can help stop this and we implore them to do so.

Debbie Hallas, Managing Director of Manchester Thunder said, “Social media is a key platform for the promotion of sport and many of us access these platforms on a regular basis. Disappointingly some people use this as a method to abuse players and others involved in sport.”

“We are standing with other sports in the hope that the social media companies out there listen and act to put a stop to this online abuse. We are delighted that Sky Sports are supporting netball in line with this stand and showing all of this weekend’s Vitality Netball Superleague games on their linear channels and website.”

As part of this weekend’s coverage of the VNSL, our broadcast partner Sky Sports will broadcast all 10 matches of Round 13 & 14 on linear channels (across Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Arena), as well as live streaming all games on the Sky Sports app and skysports.com/netball. Our match against London Pulse on Sunday 2nd May at 4pm will be shown on Sky Sports Arena, and our match against Team Bath on Monday 3rd May at 5.15pm will be shown on both Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Arena.

Fran Connolly, CEO of England Netball, commented: “Social media can be a great tool to connect with our Netball Family, reach new audiences and tell our stories, but social media can also sadly be used to spread abuse of players and others involved in our sport.  We have heard from elite players and people involved at all levels of our sport who have experienced abuse on social media and it has no place in our game or society.  We stand with football and the wider sporting community and believe social media companies can and should do more to prevent this.

“Online abuse in netball will not be tolerated, and it is vital that we play our part in keeping our channels a positive space, free from hate and abuse. We are proud to be involved in this social media boycott and as part of our social media and code of conduct policies urge those involved in our sport to stand against online abuse and harassment to protect everyone in our game and make a change together.”

As part of this, England Netball and ourselves are continuously reviewing our social media and code of conduct policies to:

  • Remove any abusive and hateful comments posted on our social media platforms and block users who post them from our channels
  • Report online abuse to the relevant social media platforms
  • Report the most serious cases to the police and take action through our Disciplinary Regulations where applicable
  • Remind members of our policies covering online abuse
  • Ask every member of the Netball Family, from our elite players to our grassroots communities, to report online abuse through the relevant route and help us make a change together