OPINION: Report a racist and stop these disgusting online thugs

England's Raheem Sterling takes a knee prior to kick-off during the UEFA Euro 2020 round of 16 match

England's Raheem Sterling takes a knee prior to kick-off during the UEFA Euro 2020 Germany game - Credit: PA

After *that* ill-fated penalty shoot-out my thoughts went straight to the inevitable wave of racist abuse rolling towards England’s black players.

But while most of us can agree on the disgusting behaviour of a few, the solution is less obvious.

As regular people with little-to-no influence in wider society, there is one way we can do our bit: report abusive or racist posts on social media.

You might think it’s pointless and won’t make a difference, or that the absence of such content on your own news feed means the problem doesn’t exist. But neither of these things are true.

After the game finished at the weekend, I began trawling through Twitter and Instagram for offensive content. Nothing jumped out from my own feed.

So I started checking all the trending topics, responses to tweets about the result from official accounts or news organisations, comments underneath previous tweets made by players who missed the penalty. I even auto-translated a few Italian posts to see if they were guilty of the same shameless bigotry succumbed to by some English users.

Admittedly, my research threw up only a handful of tweets I believed warranted use of the report function, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t thousands more flying under my radar, or flooding the inboxes of players directly.

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If every one of us went out of our way to report offensive content, whenever we see it, the people behind these accounts are much more likely to stop polluting social media.

Twitter’s conduct policy says people can’t threaten others on the basis of race — nor engage in targeted harassment of someone or incite others to follow suit.

Social media giants need to be quicker and more punitive when dealing with offensive content and the users responsible.

But that shouldn’t change our approach.

If you are uncomfortable, don’t ignore it. Hit report and let's root out the racists.

The long Covid sufferers facing uncertainly and illness as we unlock

Long Covid is just one of the terrifying fall outs of the pandemic.

That’s why I can’t understand the government’s decision to simply accept as inevitable a rise in cases of up to 100,000 a day by August.

Yes, there’ll hopefully be less hospitalisations and deaths thanks to the vaccination programme. But, if as scientists are suggesting, 10-20pc of cases are likely to end in long Covid, and there’s no guarantee jabs mitigate against that likelihood, it seems a dangerous game to play.

Most people who catch the virus have mild, temporary symptoms which are irritating at worst. Some sufferers, on the other hand, are still facing debilitating fatigue a year later.

Yesterday sufferer Giles Hayward-Smith told his story. And it is so sad.

Long Covid sufferer Giles Hayward-Smith on the difficulties of living with the long-term effects of the virus

Long Covid sufferer Giles Hayward-Smith on the difficulties of living with the long-term effects of the virus - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Until there is effective treatment and financial support systems in place for people with long Covid, opening up society to the ravages of the virus seems horribly premature.

The rise in infections and proportional rise in long Covid cases could wipe out parts of our public services sector and force people on to benefits simply because they’re too tired to work.

I know we need to loosen all restrictions and “learn to live with the virus” at some point, but is now really the time?

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