HomeInterviewExclusive: The Need For Social Media Abuse Prevention In Sport

Exclusive: The Need For Social Media Abuse Prevention In Sport

Exclusive: The Need For Social Media Abuse Prevention In Sport

After recently announcing a partnership with Signify Group with the focus of preventing social media abuse in sport, Stats Perform senior manager of integrity services, Nick Iliffe, spoke with Ministry of Sport about the need for monitoring the digital space.

As part of the partnership, Stats Perform will work with Signify to expand sports’ access to Signify’s Threat Matrix, an AI technology service used to detect online abuse at scale and in real-time.

Discussing the partnership and the need to expand focus on social media abuse in sport, Iliffe said Stats Perform had clients approaching them on the issue.

“As Stats Perform, we provide integrity services to our clients mainly focused around our core offerings of betting market monitoring, performance integrity analysis and intelligence investigation services, but clients were approaching us asking about what can we do to assist around this issue, especially given that there have been a number of high profile incidents across multiple sports recently,” Iliffe told Ministry of Sport.

“Whilst it’s not a service we provide ourselves we wanted to partner with someone to enable us to offer it to clients.

“We identified Signify as we have very similar viewpoints and philosophy on sports integrity and the need to take a proactive approach to issues.

“Historically sports integrity has tended to typically be seen as just anti-doping or anti match fixing, whereas in recent years it has widened out and stakeholders accept how issues like safeguarding, athlete welfare and governance fit within that scope.

“We’ve partnered with Signify to enable their Threat Matrix service to be offered to our clients and it’s very much about identifying threats proactively.

“Sports stakeholders can initially get an idea of what the specific online abuse issues are in their sport.

“For example, the abuse in soccer might be different to the NRL, or different teams might have different patterns of abuse based on their demographic of fans or their players.

“The next phase is the identification of the individuals who are abusing players and officials, stripping anonymity from them and ensuring they don’t go unpunished,” he said.

On the response from the industry following the Signify partnership and how sporting organisations are approaching social media abuse, Iliffe said: “Most stakeholders realise this is an important issue, and a lot of them were questioning what to do about this.”

“In the past, instances of abuse have been identified within a sport and then understandably handed over to law enforcement.

“However, law enforcement may say either it doesn’t hit the criteria to be serious enough to warrant a criminal offence, or they may struggle to allocate enough resources to the problem.

“We recently held a webinar with Signify and got a really positive response from sports stakeholders.

“It empowers them to take action like banning season-ticket holders who have been identified as abusing players online.

“It’s a really important service to offer,” he said.

When asked what advice he would give to sporting organisations looking to prevent social media abuse in sport, Iliffe said proactivity is the key.

“The most important thing is to try and be proactive, get ahead of the problem,” Iliffe said.

“In this space across a lot of industries, you often see organisations reacting once a problem has happened.

“That’s natural to some extent as there is always going to be an element of crisis management, but it’s really beneficial and important for sports organisations to try and identify where their risks are and put resources in place beforehand.

“This puts you in a much stronger position to deal with those issues and act quicker,” he told Ministry of Sport.

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