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AFL wants social media action following Rioli attacks, Lever condemns ‘coward act’

The AFL has called on social media platforms to do more to identify and ban users racially abusing its players behind anonymous accounts, following foul attacks on Port Adelaide’s Willie Rioli.

While the AFL has issued nine life membership bans this year for football fans racial abusing players at stadiums, none have been banned for online abuse.

AFL executive Tanya Hosch said privacy laws made it difficult to identify social media users and the platforms themselves did little to deal with offenders.

“We have made it clear to the social media platforms to do better. Why are they allowing people on the platform to do that?” Hosch said.

“We have had conversations with the social media sites and Meta [owner of Facebook and Instagram] has made some changes about being able to block certain words and emojis, but they are proactive moves a person must make.

“I think we as a society need to let the social media platforms know it is not good enough for them to let people use the platform for that sort of abuse.”

Hosch said the AFL had in the past identified some users who had racially abused players and been disturbed at how young many were.

Melbourne premiership defender Jake Lever described offenders as cowards as he threw his support behind Rioli, who received multiple racist messages after Collingwood’s win over the Power on Saturday night.

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