July 2021 arrived filling the British public with anticipation. Not only was #FreedomDay on the horizon, but England were so far undefeated in the Euros and Love Island had just returned to our TV screens. It was reminiscent of the summer of 2018 - which millennials on Twitter had been talking about ever since - and it brought with it a sense of togetherness that was much needed after the last 18 months of social distancing and isolation.
So when Gareth Southgate’s England squad made history by beating Denmark to reach the final of the Euros for the first time ever, football fever truly swept the nation! The achievement was made even sweeter by the fact that this was the team’s first major tournament final since winning the World Cup over 50 years ago in 1966. The squad received an outpouring of support from across the country - but they were not being praised for their exceptional football skills alone. No, this group of young men were doing things differently - showing excellence both on and off the pitch.
Marcus Rashford campaigned and succeeded in feeding children from low-income families. Harry Maguire supported elderly residents in his hometown of Sheffield throughout the pandemic with food hampers. Jadon Sancho had played a part in creating a new football pitch to be used as a safe space for children and young people to exercise, be coached and train. And ahead of the Euros 2020 final, the entire team had pledged to donate their winnings - which would have been close to £10 million - to the NHS.
Of course, we now know England wasn't destined to win the tournament and, in fact, it did not come home (this time!), which was a truly sad moment for Brits the world over. But what made the moment worse was the torrent of racist abuse that was unleashed onto the very players who just days earlier had been lauded as heroes. In the 24 hours following their loss to Italy, over 1,000 racist tweets were posted and removed, plus multiple offending accounts suspended - and that was on one social network alone. But abuse on social media is nothing new and even since the outrage following the Euros, which saw Ofcom, the FA and the Government calling for social media companies to make much needed improvements to hold individuals accountable for their actions, Lewis Hamilton has become the latest target of vile racial slurs on social media following his British Grand Prix win.
These incidents are not isolated, nor are they directed only at celebrities, sports stars or people in the public eye. Those of us who work on the social media front line, dealing with the general public to provide information, handle enquiries and deliver customer care, can encounter some pretty unpleasant customers. All it takes is for one to lose their cool and it could be you or a member of your team who is subjected to some truly horrible language. With over a million people calling for action, we can only hope a change is on the horizon, but until then, the question remains - how can we protect ourselves from abuse on social media? Well, below we’ve provided our three top tips to help you out.
#1 - No place for potty mouths 🤬
We all know that there are algorithms working behind the scenes 24/7 to remove content that goes against the community guidelines of each social media platform, but at times they get it wrong. Luckily, whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Youtube, there are ways in which you can hide comments using words you don’t want to see, helping to protect you and your team from seeing any horrible stuff. But what if you don’t use the platforms natively, how can you handle these comments then?! Well, some platforms may filter or blur profanity for you but to go one step further in protecting your team from harmful language, use clever automation such as triggers. These little ‘recipes’ enable you to push messages with your identified trigger words to a chosen individual (perhaps, in this case, the team manager) preventing anyone from seeing hateful messages and allowing them to be dealt with accordingly.
#2 - Keep an ear to the ground 👂
There was a call to arms following the abuse directed at Rashford, Sancho and Saka, for people to report any hateful posts they came across, as well as the accounts responsible. People spent hours trawling the platforms to report the abuse, which successfully saw posts removed and accounts suspended - but as a company, can you do the same? Well, that exact process can be applied to isolated incidents of hate or abuse, but if you’re facing this issue on a larger scale, you’re going to need some help. This is where your social media management platform comes in! Using something like social listening to identify any posts using specific words, phrases or hashtags - whether they directly mention your organisation or not - can help you to quickly collate these messages into one list, saving you time and effort, so you can take action on the messages that need it, getting them reported and removed as quickly as possible.
#3 - Nothing but the truth ✅
Despite your best efforts to keep your team safe, you have no control over what people post online. Unfortunately, there are people out there who spew such vicious vitriol that it is classed as a hate crime and those people need to be dealt with by the authorities. Now, you may be wondering how you can use these extreme comments as evidence in an investigation and we have to admit, often it’s not easy - but we’ve got this one covered! Sure, taking screenshots is an option, and it may be the only one you have, but with Orlo’s Tamper Check feature, your conversations in the Inbox can be saved using special encryption, which prevents any changes being made - even if a post is edited or deleted. It comes complete with a full audit trail, so you know what was posted, when and by who, ensuring those messages and conversations are admissible in court.
For those of us on the social media front line, seeing and receiving abusive comments can become part of the day job, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an impact on our emotional wellbeing. While the big social media bosses suss out how they’re going to get a handle on the issue, all we can do is take steps to keep ourselves and our teams safe, which includes looking after our mental health too. Want some advice on how to protect your mental health as a social media professional? Take a look at our mini-guide by clicking here. And if you have any other ideas, suggestions or techniques your organisation is using to protect people from online abuse, why not share them with us using our handle @HelloOrlo and we’ll repost our favourites to share with the wider Orlo community!