The tennis world has had a few very rough years.
From banning, and even attempting to humiliate, the best player in the game’s history, Novak Djokovic, as he tried to participate in major tournaments, all because of his decision not to get the Covid jab – to having to deal with geopolitics creeping into the sport to ostracize athletes based on their ethnicity.
Djokovic weathered his storm and is still the world No. 1 – not thanks to any kind of support from the tennis governing bodies, but rather despite them; and tennis lovers might have thought that by now, a lesson (or a few) has been learned.
But, as ever, optimists will have to think again.
The latest we are hearing from the tennis organizations is that they are actively getting on the (online) content surveillance and suppression bandwagon. Ironically, this time it’s supposedly to “support” athletes.
As well, if you thought the UK might be championing this latest push to monitor social media for “abusive” content, you would be absolutely right. As easy a guess as that might be at this point.
Namely, the UK has both the storied Wimbledon tournament – and, the infamous Online Safety Act.
Since January 2, tennis bodies the ITF Tennis, Women’s Tennis Association, Wimbledon, USTA launched pro-active social media abuse monitoring service for players.
Besides Wimbledon, the organizations referenced here are International Tennis Federation, Women’s Tennis Association, and United States Tennis Association.
The goal this initiative sets for itself is to flag content they find offensive, to social platforms, with the purpose of getting it removed. But not only to social sites – these groups give themselves the right to report content to law enforcement as well.
Top athletes are a remarkably hardy variety of humans; even so, none of them should endure abuse. But does online trolling (which is what social media abuse turns out to be in an overwhelming number of cases) truly warrant putting into motion a whole scheme that could easily be “repurposed” as yet another censorship tool – and naming it, no doubt for dramatic effect, “Threat Matrix”?
Signify Group, Quest and Theseus Risk Management are the beneficiaries of the contract to develop this, to “monitor players’ public-facing social media (and, DMs) for abusive and threatening content on X, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok.”
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