Boxer Bellew blasts ‘disgrace’ social media firms after gay brother targeted

Ex-World boxing champ Tony Bellew has called social media firms a “disgrace” after trolls got away with targeting his gay brother.

The cowardly trolls targeted Bellew, 38, after he shared pictures of his brother Liam’s gay marriage last September.

The former British, Commonwealth, European and World boxing champion had tweeted: “Congratulations to me little brother Liam on the marriage to his partner Steve! Wishing you both all the luck & happiness in the world.”

Bellew said on Wednesday: “I put on a picture of my brother when he got married to his husband and the hate and things I received. Wishing death upon him because of his colour, because of his sexuality, it was just insane.”

But he said the trolls never took up his challenge to meet him face to face.

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He told BBC One’s Breakfast presenter Dan Walker: “I always put the same thing, ‘if you want to say something nasty to me, or you want to challenge and come at me just tell me when you see me’. I’m still yet to meet someone.”

The boxer added: “These social media companies are a disgrace for what they are doing.”

And he called for new rules forcing people to reveal their identities before being allowed to open social media accounts.

“The simple way forward and the only way out of this is a driver’s licence or a passport is put to an account,” he said.

The Mirror's five point charter

1 Zero tolerance of identity-based hate, abuse and bullying on social media.

Firms must remove offensive material that breaches community guidelines immediately. We propose incremental fines for failure to remove such content within a specified time. Firms should also be fined if they fail to remove persistent offenders. Firms must make guidelines more robust and comprehensive.

2All social media firms to have a clear, publicised and accessible mechanism for reporting abuse. Firms should be obliged under law to acknowledge receipt of complaints and explain their action. Social media firms to publish six-monthly reports monitoring abuse and explaining action to eradicate it.

3 Automatic bans for anyone posting offensive material, including lifetime bans for repeated or especially offensive behaviour. Social media firms should explore a system of verification so it is easier to trace, remove and prosecute those spreading hatred.

4 A tax on tech firms to fund educational outreach projects to teach young people about online safety.

5 Demand the Government brings the Online Safety Bill before Parliament now. Make identity-based hate a specific crime alongside child sexual exploitation, inciting terror and promoting violence.

“No-one is going to put a racist comment to someone knowing it can come right back to you and know who you are, where you are from.”

He added: “All you care about is the money that is coming in from sponsors and what you are making from the platform. You are not caring about the hate that is going out.

“Thousands of people are dying every year through social media hate, thousands of people are killing themselves because some muppet in his mum’s basement or his mum’s loft, has wrote ‘you are an absolute waste of space’.

"And that is the saddest part about it.”

But he said individuals need to take responsibility for the comments they post.

Bellew, from Liverpool, added: “As well as the social media companies, people need to take accountability for their actions.”

The Mirror has launched our Stop Online Hate campaign to demand tech firms tackle the cowardly thugs who are turning social media into a cesspit of hatred.

Bellew, who starred as boxer Ricky Conlan in the 2015 Hollywood movie “Creed” alongside Sylvester Stallone, retired from the ring in 2018.

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During his glittering career he won 30 of his 34 fights, including 20 knockouts.

His book, “Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Face: 12 Things Boxing Teaches You About Life,” is published on Thursday.

The Mirror’s Stop Online Hate campaign also demands tech firms act to tackle abuse.

  • The Armed Forces’ mental health champion has quit Twitter, blaming six years of trolling and abuse. Warrant Officer Glenn Haughton said: “I was not prepared to take the hounding any longer.”

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