MSA WARNS ABOUT SO­CIAL MEDIA ABUSE

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey, LAT and Mick Walker By Rob Lad­brook

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.”

Snet­ter­ton BTCC round pro­voked com­ments

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