World Cup players get protection from social media abuse

DOHA, Qatar (AP) FIFA and the global soccer players union have launched a moderation service aimed at protecting World Cup players from abuse on social media during the tournament.

FIFA said Wednesday that the more than 830 players in Qatar can access a ''dedicated monitoring, reporting and moderation service'' that aims to filter hate speech targeted at them.

The World Cup starts Sunday, just days after Twitter fired a swath of contractors working on content moderation teams that were tracking hate and trying to enforce rules against harmful posts.

Twitter was not mentioned in the FIFA news release providing details of the project, which was first announced in June and is conducted together with players union FIFPRO.

''Teams, players and other individual participants will also be able to opt-in to a moderation service that will instantly hide abusive and offensive comments on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, preventing them from being seen by the recipient and their followers,'' soccer's world body said.

The project will monitor social media accounts of all World Cup participants and report discrimination and threats ''to social networks and law authorities for real-world action against those who break rules,'' FIFA said.

The scope of hate speech aimed at soccer players was detailed by FIFA in June from research during the previous year at later stages of the European Championship and African Cup of Nations.

It said half of all those players received some kind of discriminatory abuse and most of that from their home country. FIFA said then that ''homophobic and racist comments accounted for nearly 80% of the abuse.''

Spain striker Alvaro Morata received death threats online after missing a great chance against Poland during last year's European Championship.

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