FIFA launch social media monitoring programme but can they be trusted with the data?

November 17 – FIFA in collaboration with Fifpro have launched social media protection service for players at the World Cup Qatar 2022.

The service aims to monitor and moderate hate speech on social media and is available to all players competing in Qatar.

Through dedicated monitoring, and what it appears to be a huge data collection operation, the system will report and moderate with the aim of minimising the visibility of hate speech aimed at player on social media. The stated objective being to protect both players and their fans from online abuse during the tournament.

That is a noble cause and it is nice that FIFA show such concern for their players – it is a shame they are refusing to show the same human rights concerns on the same scale for the 5,000+ migrant workers who died building the infrastructure for their finals tournament.

That works out as at least 625 dead bodies per stadium (taking the whole infrastructure development into account) to facilitate the playing conditions for the potentially social-media abused players to bring joy to the world.

The issue of online abuse is of course very real. FIFA use Brazilian star Willian to make their case.

“It was like, when I had a bad game or when we lost games; straight away they came to my social media, my wife’s social media, and started to say bad words to us and attacked us, attacking my family, my daughters,” said Willian in a video message.

Willian’s young twin daughters were afraid to go to school while his wife refused to leave home unless it was absolutely necessary. He also hired a security guard to accompany him to training due to his concerns.

“FIFA is committed to provide the best possible conditions for players to perform to the best of their abilities. At the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we are happy to launch a service that will help to protect players from the damaging effects that social media posts can cause to their mental health and well-being,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said.

Tell that to each of the families of the 5,000 migrant workers who died “to provide the best possible conditions for players”.

The concept of using big data collection techniques to screen social media on one level sounds good but how many World Club players will be happy for a FIFA designed system to use AI (presumably) to monitor – and control – their social media posts. Particularly following Infantino’s order that it was time for players and federations to ‘shut up and play’.

It will interesting to see if FIFA release detail of the scheme once in operation and whether they have follow up plans or whether it is just another expensive gimmick.

As with all big data collection exercises, there is the fear of what that data will ultimately be used for beyond its stated intention. Can FIFA really be trusted not to use the data collected for marketing, advertising purposes or perhaps more sinisterly to identify fans, players, clubs with dissident views of FIFA or Qatar 2022?

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