The A-Leagues and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) are continuing their collaboration with GoBubble Community to stop social media abuse towards Australia and New Zealand’s professional men’s and women’s footballers, through to at least 2027.
First established in April 2022, the use of GoBubble’s artificial intelligence is key to identifying and blocking abusive, derogatory, harmful or offensive content.
GoBubble has implemented an automated solution that picks up sentiment and is tailored to the needs of all organisations in real-time, for example if an ongoing issue presents itself.
The GoBubble partnership is one of the first in its kind when monitoring an entire sporting league. Since the A-League’s adoption, the English Premier League and German Bundesliga and other sports rights holders globally now use technology successfully.
Since April 2022, GoBubble’s technology has protected A-Leagues players and clubs’ social media accounts, with more than 13,000 abusive comments blocked.
The A-Leagues, PFA and GoBubble (through the new GoBubble Foundation launching in 2024) will be running community outreach projects to provide access to the cutting-edge technology for those who play the role in protecting young people in their digital lives.
A-Leagues Commissioner Nick Garcia reiterated that abuse in any form is not accepted:
”Our footballers and clubs provide great entertainment to their many fans across Australia and New Zealand, both on the field as well as through social media content.
“Just like we work to ensure our stadiums are safe for our players and fans, we are also, through GoBubble Community, focused on making social media a safe space for them.
“Online abuse is absolutely not acceptable in football or any walk of life, so we are thrilled to extend our vital partnership with GoBubble Community.”
PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch praised the efforts of GoBubble so far:
“Our collective ambition is to make the A-Leagues the safest competition in world football for players and fans, and that extends to ensuring everyone’s experience online is the best it can possibly be.
“GoBubble has proven to be the most effective way for our players to add a layer of protection online, so that they can continue to engage with fans and grow our football community.”
GoBubble Founder Henry Platten commended the A-Leagues and PFA approach to abuse:
“The A-Leagues’ innovative approach in providing our sentiment artificial intelligence (AI) for all member clubs has positively impacted the digital lives of millions.
“Football is the beautiful game, and by working in partnership with the A-Leagues and PFA, our patent-pending technology is helping everyone enjoy it without the risk of suffering hate or abuse online.
“We care about respectful communication at scale and are proud, together with the A-Leagues and PFA, to deliver another world first in 2024 by providing access to our AI through the GoBubble Foundation to education and charitable organisations working with schools in Australia.”
eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant shared the importance of sustaining this technology:
“It’s great to see this successful partnership being extended to ensure players and fans alike can continue to enjoy the sport they love without being subjected to harmful content.
“Online abuse is an insidious problem that affects all sporting codes from elite to community level, so it’s important that initiatives like this continue to receive support.
“While we might be disappointed with a particular call or play, that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to unleash a torrent of online abuse. Smart use of safety technologies is an important tool in every football club’s arsenal.
“eSafety has developed specialist resources with sporting organisations and integrity units to help deal with the issue. You can find these resources and report abuse at eSafety.gov.au/sport.”
The research so far:
The issue of abusive behaviour on social media was examined closely by the Australian eSafety Commissioner in their Online Hate Speech report which indicated “around 1 In 7 (14%) adults aged 18–65 are estimated to have been the target of online hate speech.”
The Report also reflected on the negative impact of hateful social media content, finding that “58% (of people experiencing hate speech) report a negative impact from their experience, typically mental or emotional stress, relationship problems or reputational damage.”
Separately, the recent FIFA World Cup 2022 held in Qatar was also examined through the FIFA/FIFPRO Social Media Protection Service Report: Qatar 2022 Analysis. It reported that “targeted individual racism was high volume with more than 300 players being targeted.”
The report indicated 286,895 abusive, discriminatory and threatening comments were detected targeting World Cup participant accounts with sexism, homophobia and racism among the most detected abusive messages.
As proud signatories of eSafety’s Commitment to Online Safety in Sport, A-Leagues and PFA see this extended partnership as a 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.
Find out more about GoBubble Community on their website – gobubblehq.com.