AFL star Wingard urges social media reform

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AFL star Wingard urges social media reform

AFL star Chad Wingard is urging the federal government to create laws requiring identification for social media profiles in a bid to stamp out online abuse.

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Wingard and high-profile AFLW player Tayla Harris have both told a government hearing of the toll of receiving social media abuse.

Both Wingard and Harris say they're wary of using social media after copping online abuse.

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The players separately gave submissions to the House of Representatives' Select Committee, Social Media and Online Safety, on Tuesday.

“Social media has definitely taken a huge toll on AFL players,” Wingard told the committee.

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“But not just AFL players, it has taken a toll on my family and the families of players.”

Wingard has been racially abused on social media from early in his AFL career, which began at Port Adelaide in 2012.

He now doesn't use Twitter or Facebook and doesn't check direct messages to his Instagram profile.

“I personally don't check them any more out of the fear of what I going to find,” he said.

“When I was younger I used to check those messages and I actually copped a lot of racial stuff and I didn't know how to deal with that.”

Wingard's entire family, including foster brothers and sisters, received online abuse when he moved from Port Adelaide to Hawthorn at the end of the 2018 season.

“I know a lot of people say it comes with being an AFL player but I don't think being bullied or being discriminated against is in the job description,” he said.

“I view it as 'what would happen if it happened at a live event, what would happen in person … a screen doesn't take away the pain.”

Wingard said having a identification requirement for all social media profiles would help reduce online abuse.

“You can't just give people a slap on the wrist and just say 'delete that comment or we're going to block your account',” he said.

“Because it's really easy at the moment to make multiple accounts and they can just keep doing it … if we have an identification process while signing up to these platforms, I feel like that would help.”

A group of the AFL's Indigenous players have resolved to keep calling out online abuse after repeated incidents highlighted by retired greats Adam Goodes and Eddie Betts.

In one case, a social media user posted a monkey icon on numerous profiles of AFL Indigenous players.

“It was about 10 of us AFL players … it has taken him (the social media user) five minutes to really ruin 10 people's days, weeks, months, it could be years to get over that kind of stuff,” Wingard said.

“And it's not just one comment, this has happened day-in, day-out, this happens week after week after week.

“It's not the one comment, it's the thousands. It's the daily, it's the weekly struggles.

“People don't understand. They might see it as one comment – 'oh, it's OK'. It's not OK … it takes a toll, it's draining.”

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