Idris Elba has offered a solution to racist insults hurled from internet users who use the anonymity of social media to spread hate. The 48-year-old actor believes it should be required for any person who signs up for social media platforms to provide a photo ID for verification, instead of just being allowed to create an account for immediate use.
His proposition comes after England soccer players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, and Jadon Sancho faced racist abuse online following their performances during the final match of the UEFA Euro 2020, in which England lost to Italy in a shootout at Wembley Stadium in London on July 11.
According to ESPN, four people have been arrested thus far for targetting the young athletes. Police informed the sports news outlet that a specialist team is looking into the offensive comments made on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
“We are working very closely with social media platforms, who are providing data we need to progress enquiries,” said Chief Constable Mark Roberts to ESPN. He is the lead officer on Britain’s policing response on soccer issues. “If we identify that you are behind this crime, we will track you down and you will face the serious consequences of your shameful actions.”
While law enforcement plans to identify users behind the hateful accounts, with Elba’s plan their identity would already be known. He compared the current process of creating a social media page to an airport without security procedures in place for safety.
If the No Good Deed star had his way, public figures would not be the only verified accounts. “People in the public eye get verified on social media. The process of verification requires them to prove their identity, so everyone knows who is speaking,” he wrote on his Instagram post. “Social media companies should make this mandatory for all users.”
The statement continued, “If cowards are being supported by a veil of privacy and secrecy, then social media is not a safe place. It’s an aeroplane that allows travelers to wear balaclavas. If cowards want to spout racial rhetoric then say it with your name, not your username.”
According to Comparitech, in the United Kingdom, out of 1,784 reported online hate crimes in 2017 and 2018, 52 percent involved race. Out of 105,090 hate crimes reported to police between March 2019 and March 2020, 2 percent were flagged as online incidents.
Currently, to sign up for Facebook, a person must be at least 13 years old and provide a name, phone number, birthday, and gender. An email or phone number must be verified for full access to the account. According to the company’s hate speech policy, Facebook does not allow any sort of hate speech on the platform because it “creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion, and in some cases may promote offline violence. “
To create an Instagram account, users must download the app and sign up using a phone number or email address, verified through a confirmation code, or sign up with an existing Facebook account. In February, the photo and video sharing app issued a statement addressing racist Instagrammers, hate targeted to athletes, and its work to combat the issue.
“We want Instagram to be a place for people to connect with the people and things they love. But we also know that, just like in the offline world, there will always be those who abuse others. We’ve seen it most recently with racist online abuse targeted at footballers in the UK. We don’t want this behavior on Instagram,” said the statement.
“We’re committed to doing everything we can to fight hate and racism on our platform, but we also know these problems are bigger than us. We look forward to working with other companies, football associations, NGOs, governments, parents and educators, both on and offline.”
As for Twitter, users can sign up using a phone number or email address and immediately begin using the app. The hate speech policy bans anyone who promotes “violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”
The platform claims to “not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.”
Read Idris Elba’s full statement below: