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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.”

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MFM Varsity Name Founder, Olukoya Professor

The General Overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Dr Daniel Olukoya, has been appointed by Mountain Top University, MTU as a professor of Biotechnology.

In a statement on Wednesday, the university said that the  appointment of Olukoya, who is also the university’s Chancellor, was a result of the positive consideration shown by a relevant review by the council and the assessments of his publications by some of the world’s best scholars in biotechnology.

The statement read, “This is the result of the positive consideration given by relevant review committees and the Council of the University following the assessments of his publications by some of the world’s best scholars in Biotechnology, each of whom found him to be eminently appointable as Professor of Biotechnology.

“It needs to be underscored that this appointment is indeed well-deserved by Prof. D. K. Olukoya, who is an epitome of all-around excellence.

“He also engaged himself as a distinguished researcher and exceptional geneticist at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research between 1984 and 1998, during which he produced more than 70 scientific publications in the best local and international journals in the area of Microbiology and Biotechnology.

“He has also been cited more than a thousand times by scholars across the world.

“Not only has the new Professor of Biotechnology cut a niche for himself among eminent scholars in Microbiology and Biotechnology across the world, he has equally supervised many postgraduate students and continues to serve as a mentor and motivator to many Nigerian Microbiologists and Biotechnologists, many of whom have risen to professorial cadres in universities in and outside Nigeria.”

The statement added that Olukoya was severally offered the position in the 1990s by many universities, saying he chose to pursue his ministerial calling as directed by God.


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INEC Says 132, 626 Voters Cards Uncollected In Anambra

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that 132,626 Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) are yet to be collected in Anambra State.

The commission added that it has relocated six local government area collection centres in the state, as a result of the insecurity ravaging most parts of the country.

The state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Queen Elizabeth Agwu, stated this on Wednesday, during a meeting with stakeholders at the state headquarters of the commission.

Agwu who addressed all the political parties representatives, traditional rulers and civil society groups said the local government areas where the relocation of collation centres took place include Ihiala, Nnewi South, Onitsha North, Orumba North, Awka North and Awka South.

She said:“The collection of PVCs has been extended to Saturdays and Sundays in Anambra State.

“We need enough security to carry out this function. If people fail to collect their PVC, they will be shortchanging themselves, and doing a disservice to the people of their area.

“The 2023 general elections will be free, fair and credible, not only in Anambra State but the entire country. We have done the necessary work, and we hope to deliver.”

She gave a breakdown of the figures of uncollected PVCs in most local government areas as follows:

Ayamelum – 1,960; Dunukofia – 6,222; Idemili South – 4’589; Anaocha – 885; Orumba South -6,656; Onitsha South – 12,274; Idemili North – 16,256; Aguata – 12675; Njikoka – 7,009; Ogbaru – 10,755 and Anambra East – 7,717.

Others are Nnewi South – 1,841; Awka North – 1,153; Anambra West – 1,387; Orumba North – 2,393; Oyi – 7,982; Onitsha North – 9,990; Ihiala – 4,058; Nnewi North – 8,700; Ekwusigo – 3,350 and Awka South – 4,971.


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Osun LP Guber Candidate, Lasun Rejoins PDP

Yusuf Lasun, a former deputy speaker of the house of representatives, has rejoined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The governor of Osun, Ademola Adeleke made the announcement on Wednesday at the PDP presidential rally in Osogbo, the Osun capital.

“The former deputy speaker has joined the PDP family. He used to be in PDP, but today, he has decided to come and join the PDP family,” the governor said.

Lasun, who was present at the rally, hailed supporters after a terse remark.

Lasun had contested the 2022 governorship election in Osun on the platform of the Labour Party (LP).

Adeleke came first in the election; Gboyega Oyetola of the APC placed second; Kehinde Atanda of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) came third; while Lasun came a distant fourth.

He was a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) until February when he resigned from the party after losing the party’s governorship ticket.

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