A-Leagues and PFA partner with GoBubble Community to silence social media hate

A-Leagues and Professional Footballers Australia are proud to announce a first-of-its-kind partnership with GoBubble Community, a discrete automated solution that hides hateful comments on social media channels.

In what is believed to be a world first, the social media channels of an entire sporting league (all A-Leagues clubs and players) will be shielded from abusive, derogatory, harmful or offensive language, thanks to the roll out of GoBubble Community’s technology.

Hate speech is a growing and harmful online issue*, so this move, using the latest technology, puts safeguards in place to protect the wellbeing of A-Leagues footballers, as well as the community of managers who run the official club social media channels.

A-Leagues CEO Danny Townsend said: ”Football has a unique power to connect people from all walks of life, and we want the A-Leagues to be the most welcoming and safe place at every level – in our online communities and in real life.

“There is no place for online abuse in our game, and this move is part of our duty of care to players and our fans. GoBubbleCommunity’s technology shields anyone who follows player, club and league accounts from seeing harmful abuse and keeps our communities safe.”

PFA Co-Chief Executive Kathryn Gill said: “Social media is a powerful tool that allows players to connect and positively engage with fans, promote their careers and clubs, and share their development as people on and off the pitch.

“But their presence on these platforms unfortunately exposes them to hate and abuse which has no place in our sport or society. This partnership with GoBubble Community continues our commitment to addressing the issue of online harm in partnership with the APL – and ensures we protect the wellbeing of our players and encourages positive experiences online.”

GoBubble Community uses machine-learning based software that monitors social media accounts in order to identify and deal with abusive, derogatory, harmful or offensive content.

And the automated solution, launched late last year, can be tailored to the needs of any organisation and shielding them from abuse in a matter of minutes.

GoBubble Founder Henry Platten said: “GoBubble Community is proud to be working in partnership with A-Leagues and Professional Footballers Australia, as they make a powerful stand to eradicate online hate and discrimination through the use of our innovative software.

“The A League is taking the lead to roll out use of this technology across all clubs, and we now hope to see this approach replicated by sports governing bodies across the globe. This powerful step will protect teams, players and communities from online abuse, and promote a positive and supportive virtual experience across their social channels.”

As proud signatories of eSafety’s Commitment to Online Safety in Sport, A-Leagues and PFA see this move as an important further step in helping to keep all Australians safe online, and a key prevention strategy for athletes and staff who are targets of online abuse.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said: “These days we often find the cheapest seats in the house are behind a keyboard, with players being subjected to terrible online abuse in the course of doing their jobs. Back in November last year we met with some of the biggest sporting codes in the country and pledged to work together to do more to protect players, coaches and support staff from online abuse.

“I think it’s great to see the A-Leagues and PFA making good on this pledge and taking a proactive approach to protecting their athletes. eSafety will continue pushing the major tech companies to embed Safety by Design into their platforms so that sporting organisations don’t need to take matters into their own hands to keep their players safe on these platforms.  And as always, eSafety is also here to help and all Australians can report serious online abuse to us at www.esafety.gov.au.”

This announcement follows a successful trial between February 25 and 26 by A-Leagues and PFA, using GoBubble Community’s software on the Twitter profiles of Adelaide Utd, Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners, the clubs participating in the Pride Cup Double Header.