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Jermaine Jenas calls for laws to make social media firms tackle racism

Jermaine Jenas

Jermaine Jenas calls for laws to make social media firms tackle racism

Jermaine Jenas, the former England footballer turned TV presenter, has urged the government to sanction social media companies that fail to stamp out racism and abuse on their platforms.

For months Jenas has been monitoring the rise in online abuse against Black footballers and assessing whether social media companies have kept promises to do more in the wake of abuse faced by Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho after the Euro 2020 final this summer.

In a Channel 4 documentary, Hunting the Football Trolls, Jenas says there has been no improvement in policing and banning racists, and accuses social media companies of being the biggest trolls of all.

“What have social media companies done?” Jenas, who played for Premier League sides including Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, told the Guardian. “They haven’t done anything. The government need to get control over the issue. These companies are operating the way they want to. But if laws are in place they’ll have to work within those laws.”

Channel 4 commissioned the data company Signify to analyse more than 6 million posts across the 2020-21 season including Euro 2020. It found a 48% increase in unmoderated racist abuse in the second half of the season, peaking in May 2021, with 50% of abusive tweets coming from UK accounts.

It also found that Raheem Sterling was subjected to more than twice as much abuse as Harry Kane during the Euros, with 54% of this being racist. Guardian analysis reported similar findings during Euro 2020 – 2,000 abusive tweets were directed at and named the England team including the N-word and monkey emojis.

Jenas said he found a severe disconnect between what the police and social media companies deemed abusive. “The police are working their socks off to get as much information as they can. The UK Football Policing Unit, a specialist department, are actively tracking the things that are online. But generally the police are quite powerless, which I found scary.”

The film explains that police can ask social media companies for information about who set up an abusive account, which IP address posts came from and what devices were used. But a site such as Twitter can sometimes take up to six months to respond, and may determine that the post was not abusive.

In the UK, the online harms bill outlines a duty of care on social media companies to protect users from harmful content. The bill proposes fines of up to 10% of a company’s annual turnover, which would amount to about £6bn for a firm the size of Facebook.

“Nobody knows what happens behind closed doors,” Jenas said. “All footballers look like they’re rich and living great lives but players are receiving an obscene amount of racism and online abuse.

“Social media companies have had more than enough time to adapt and adjust, but all they have done is ask us to change. They’ll send us a new update: turn off these settings, turn off those settings, turn off your comments. But why am I having to do all this when they should be policing it? If people shout abuse at you on the street they’d be arrested, so why are they allowed to do it on these platforms?”

A Facebook company spokesperson said: “No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t tolerate it on Facebook and Instagram. We remove racist content as soon as we see it and respond to valid legal requests to help with police investigations.

“We’ve also built the Hidden Words tool to prevent people from seeing this abuse in their comments and in DMs … People can also limit comments and DM requests during spikes of increased attention. No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to continuing our work with the Premier League and others to help keep our community safe from abuse.”


Woman who masterminded self-kidnap, two others nabbed in Benin

A Benin, Edo State-based woman, Blessing Ogunu, who allegedly masterminded her own kidnap has been arrested by police operatives in the State.

The woman who is now cooling her feet with two other suspects in police custody, was arrested on 23 March, 2024.

The Command’s spokesman, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, in a statement on Monday in Benin, said the suspect was arrested with two other accomplices, Esther Anthony and Ukpebor Joel.

According to him, “The Anti-Kidnapping and Cyber Crime Unit received a complaint from one Samuel Prince Omomuzo, of No 102 Ihama Road, GRA, Benin City who reported that one Blessing Ogunu, a staff of Bliss Legacy Limited, Benin City was kidnapped in Benin and the kidnappers demanded for four million, eight hundred thousand naira (N4,800,000.00) ransom.

“The operatives, using technical intelligence, arrested the supposed victim of the kidnap, one Blessing Ogunu, Esther Anthony and Ukpebor Joel.

“During interrogation, the supposed Blessing Ogunu confessed that she masterminded her self-kidnap because her company refused to allocate land to a customer whom they have received money from.”

Nwanbuzor disclosed that the suspects would soon be charged to court.

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NAF airstrikes eliminate 30 terrorist kingpins, fighters in Borno

The Air component of the Operation Hadin Kai (OPHK), has executed a precision airstrike on the hideouts of ISWAP terrorists, killing over 30 of their fighters within Kolleram village along the shores of Lake Chad.

This is contained in a statement by AVM Edward Gabkwet, the Director, Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force (NAF), on Tuesday in Abuja.

Gabkwet said the airstrikes conducted on April 13, were a decisive blow against terrorism in the North-East.

He said the operation yielded significant success as the Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) post-strike conducted revealed the neutralisation of over 30 terrorists.

Gabkwet said that among those neutralised were some senior commanders of the insurgents including Ali Dawud, Bakura Fallujah, and Mallam Ari.

“Additionally, numerous vehicles, motorcycles, and logistical assets were destroyed, severely hampering the terrorists’ operational capabilities.

“Intelligence gathered after the air strike further indicated that the aerial bombardment effectively obliterated a key facility within the Kolleram enclave, which served as a hub for the terrorists’ food processing activities, including grinding machines.

“The success of these airstrikes underscores NAF’s commitment to eradicating terrorism and ensuring the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.

“By neutralising key terrorist figures and destroying their logistical infrastructure, the operation has significantly degraded the capabilities of the ISWAP group in the region.

“These airstrikes complement the ongoing efforts of ground forces in the Lake Chad flank and represent a crucial step forward in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria,” he said.


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Francis Okoye arrested in Anambra bound commercial bus with firearms, POS machine

A 22-year-old man, Francis Obinna Okoye, has been arrested by operatives of Edo State Police Command’s Monitoring Unit for alleged possession of firearm.
Also recovered from him was a blue-coloured pos machine.
Okoye who resides at No 26, Jatto Street, Okolo, Lagos State, was arrested on 7 April, 2024.
A statement by the Command’s spokesman, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, said the suspect was apprehended by the  operatives while on stop and search duty along Lagos-Benin expressway, by Ovia river axis.
He was intercepted in a commercial bus loaded with passengers from Lagos state heading to Anambra state.
The suspect allegedly confessed in his statement that one Emma whose surname is unknown, gave him the gun to threaten his uncle, Mr. Paul Okoye, who was alleged to have killed his father with chams.
However, when operatives of the Command took him to Lagos on Monday, 8 April, 2024, to arrest Mr. Paul Okoye, they found out that the suspect lied to the operatives.
“The suspect will soon be process to
court,” the Edo Police Command spokesperson said.
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