Watch: BT wants to ‘Draw The Line’ through online abuse in multimillion pound campaign

BT has launched a campaign starring its sports personalities to stand up against hate speech and abuse on social media ahead of this weekend’s boycott of platforms.

BT Sport presenter Lynsey Hipgrave opens up about the impact of online abuse in a new campaign
BT Sport presenter Lynsey Hipgrave opens up about the impact of online abuse in a new campaign

The campaign aims to raise awareness of how online hate impacts its sports presenters and pundits, with moving tales from Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Savage, Karen Carney and others.

Draw The Line is the first stage of a multimillion pound BT campaign to tackle online hate and abuse and launches ahead of a nationwide boycott of social media by the sports community this weekend.

The campaign was created and delivered by Pitch Marketing Group and Wunderman Thompson.

New YouGov research commissioned by BT  revealed over five million people have received online abuse in the last 12 months.

BT Sport developed an AI Abuse tracker tool that found during high-profile football matches, 3 in 10 abusive tweets were sent before a ball is even kicked.  During one 90-minute game there was a 350 per cent increase in abusive Tweets in just 5 minutes as teams failed to score, and across all the matches tracked, there was a 65 per cent increase in religious abuse and a 45 per cent increase in sexual orientation abuse.

Online abuse was worse for women with one in five women that received online abuse saying it was about their appearance.

“The thing that hurts most about online hate is that people are continuously allowed to get away with it,” Ferdinand said. “Year in and year out it is getting worse and worse.”

Marc Allera, the CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said: “For too long we have just accepted that hate online is the norm. Today we are launching Draw the Line – a campaign on BT Sport which marks the start of a BT focus on tackling social media abuse.

“We’re working on building a better understanding of what we don't see, by using technology to build a more accurate picture of the scale of the problem.  Over the next few months, you will see our own social teams proactively respond, delete, block or report hate speech and the abuse we see on our channels.

“And this summer, BT and EE will make big investments in activity to raise awareness of the issue and give people the digital skills to protect themselves and support others on social media.”

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