One of the key demands made by English football in the fight against online abuse of players has already been rejected by Twitter and Facebook, who insist it would bring an unacceptable level of censorship.
In an open letter to Twitter and Facebook this week, the game’s governing bodies called for abusive messages to be ‘filtered and blocked before being sent or posted’ if they contain racist or discriminatory material.
But in a response which goes to the heart of the conflict between football’s wish to protect players and the tech giants’ desire to preserve free speech, Twitter has indicated that demanding a block at source is unreasonable.
It also says the volume of daily messages is too high to make it achievable.
Facebook is thought to take the same view — but the company declined Sportsmail’s request to speak to one of their executives as part of an investigation into the abuse.
Neither did the company respond to a written request for clarification on football’s written demands
Despite billions of tweets being sent every day, word filter software does allow social media platforms to detect when an abusive message is about to be sent.
Twitter is currently trialling a prompt, asking users if they are sure they want to send a message which looks suspicious. It has not yet rolled this out, because it wants to be convinced that its automated artificial intelligence systems are not blocking acceptable messages.