Euro 2020: could Twitter stop racist abuse before it happens?

Recent and timely research has been carried out by the RUAIRE team focused on the impact of the Twitter ‘firestorms’ springing up around the racial abuse of England players in the post match period of the European Football Finals hosted in London, England.

Cover Photo of Article in The Conversation

The research was shared on Tuesday 13th July in this article on The Conversation (within 2 days following the incident) and highlights the challenges for International Events in managing the issue of racial abuse. Some Twitter fans using the hashtag #Euro2020final posted racist messages against England’s black players which included Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.

Modelling of the topics discussed post match.

The article has drawn interest from several news outlets and Dr Nicole Ferdinand has participated on Radio 4’s PM program where she shared ideas around use of AI and machine learning approaches to reduce the amplification of racial abuse online (click the link to listen to the intro and further input at 5:08pm).

The significance of this research can be seen when we consider the clear and present threat to the UK from ‘hostile states’ who are fanning right wing extremism as a means to create a terrorist threat within the UK. According to Ken McCallum (Director General of MI5) quoted on the Radio 4 show, “Racism is a toxic issue feeding into right wing terrorism.” There is clearly therefore a need for event teams, their sponsoring countries and tech companies to work together to combat this issue of misinformation and disinformation.

The Research Collective RUAIRE stands for Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence in Recreation and Events and is focused on investigating the ethical and effective use of Artificial Intelligence and emerging technologies in the fields of Tourism and Events.

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