Thu. Sep 23rd, 2021

The Swansea City midfielder Yan Dhanda has hit out at “selfish” social media companies and criticised Facebook for not contacting him after he was racially abused on Instagram.

Dhanda said he was “praying for change” after the abuse left him and his family upset and angry. The account holder responsible has been prevented from sending direct messages “for a set period of time” and a South Wales police investigation is ongoing.

Dhanda said the message sent after Swansea’s FA Cup defeat by Manchester City affected him in training the following day and he last weekend accused Facebook, which owns Instagram, of adding “more fuel for hate”.

“If they put themselves in my shoes and [see] the way it affected me, immediately there should be alarm bells ringing, and they should want to speak and they should want to come up with a solution about how to stop this,” Dhanda said on Thursday. “But for them not to do that just proved they’re not too bothered about the victims’ feelings or whatever’s happening. So hopefully they see it and think they need to come up with a solution and get my opinions – they might not think they are right, but at least to listen to what I’m saying and what I think we can do to stop this abuse.”

Asked why he thinks Facebook responded by allowing the perpetrator to continue to use its Instagram account, Dhanda replied: “Selfish reasons. They just want as many people as they can to be using their applications. They [social media companies] are not being affected; they’re not being abused, so they’re all right.”

Swansea expressed shock at the “leniency” of Facebook’s punishment and Dhanda believes social media companies must remove the ability for users to be anonymous if they are serious about halting online abuse. “I think there should be some sort of proving who you are before you even sign up,” the 22-year-old said. “If then you sign up, you show who you really are, whether it be [via a] passport, credit card, that proves who you are and your location.

“If you still want to send abuse and be racist and discriminate then you can be tracked down, your account can be banned and then you cannot make another one.”

Facebook has said it is “taking tougher measures” against users who send direct messages and that it does not want “hate and racism on our platforms”. It said it wanted the person who abused Dhanda to have “the opportunity to learn from their mistake”.

Dhanda, whose father was born in England to Indian parents, hopes he can be a trailblazer for British Asian footballers. Last season only eight players from Asian backgrounds made first-team appearances in England’s top four divisions.

“I’m trying to break the barriers for kids coming through younger than me, for them to have someone to look up to, to think: ‘Well Yan’s done it, so can we.’ My dream is for many, many Asian players to come through and play professionally. I’m super proud of where I’m from.”

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