MSA WARNS ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA ABUSE
The Motor Sports Association has reported a rise in the number of social media abuse cases in recent years, and has issued a reminder that repeat offenders may face disciplinary action, and could even be banned from the sport.
The UK motorsport governing body last week told Motorsport News that social media abuse was a growing concern, with cases on the rise across all age groups.
The MSA issued social media usage guidelines for its clubs, officials and representatives back in 2012, and may now consider bringing in a new code of conduct to cover all participants in the sport. It already runs the Race ‘n’ Respect campaign in karting and junior classes.
While there are no regulations specifically governing social media, instances of harassment, bullying or threatening behaviour are counted under Section C of the MSA’S Blue Book, which lays out its judicial powers.
MSA general secretary Simon Blunt said participants must remember their responsibility to behave accordingly, both in the real world and the virtual.
Blunt said: “The rise in social media, and the darker side of it, is the way of the world and it’s not just happening in motorsport, but we have seen an increase in incidents. It is particularly disturbing when it involves minors [in karting classes], but we have also seen a rise in adult v adult cases. Often it’s simply people who post in the heat of the moment and don’t consider their words or the impact of them, but sometimes it goes deeper.
“If you look at the aftermath of the British Touring Car Championship event at Snetterton recently as an example, there were keyboard warriors writing some frankly crazy things for a week afterwards. Much of things like that we can discount, but if we have active licence holders posting inappropriately it becomes a case of improper conduct and there are various tools at the MSA’S disposal to deal with them.
“In the judicial section it lists out the principal offences and one of them is abusive language or behaviour, or threats of physical assault or violence – all of those count for social media too. Anything that gets posted on Facebook, Twitter or forums goes into the public domain and that means offensive posts could bring the sport into disrepute.
“The power is there for us to take action if needed, and more severe cases can be referred to the National Court, which could result in a fine, a reprimand, a sanction or the suspension of a licence for a set time period, or, for the most severe, exclusion from the sport.”
Blunt added that the MSA was constantly monitoring the way other sports deal with social media issues. “We cannot be the police of the internet, but if licence holders are posting abuse it’s no different from, for example, the sanctions from the Football Association has over footballers who do the same thing.
“The FA comes down hard on such things because the players have professional contracts. We don’t have quite the same relationship with our licence holders, but if they are involved they have an agreement with the MSA for that licence and we could take action. We want to remind everyone to think before they post and to behave in the correct manner. Social media abuse is not part of this sport and we must stamp it out.”