Lewis Hamilton joins social media boycott in a stand against racism and abuse

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Lewis Hamilton has joined other sports, athletes and media companies this weekend, in supporting a social media boycott over the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend, to hold social platforms to account for abuse being posted online.

Football League clubs, England’s cricket board, the Lawn Tennis Association, Formula E, and Premiership Rugby have all joined to support the blackout from Friday to Monday to try and stamp out abuse.

From 3pm UK time today (Friday) until 11:59 on Monday, many including Williams driver George Russell and McLaren’s Lando Norris, will take part in the media blackout.

And seven-time world champion Hamilton, who has been working towards eradicating racism and including more diversity in motorsport, posted: “To stand in solidarity with the football community, I will be going dark on my social media channels this weekend.

“There is no place in our society for any kind of abuse, online or not, and for too long, it’s been easy, for a small few to post hate from behind their screens.

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“While a boycott might not solve this issue overnight, we have to call for change when needed, even when it seems like an almost impossible task.

“Sport has the power to unite us. Let’s not accept abuse as part of sport, but instead, let’s be the ones who make a difference for future generations.”

Hamilton has worked hard over the past year to highlight the need for diversity and inclusivity within motorsport, and has been pioneering F1’s recent pre-race anti-racism stance on the grid, whilst also attending BLM protests and pushing his own team Mercedes to do more.

When asked about the boycott, initiated by the football community, ahead of the race weekend, he was clear to state he stands against any form of abuse.

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He said: “It’s clear, and clearly in this sport, it’s clear that racism continues to be an issue.

“I think social media platforms do need to do more in order to combat this, so I’m fully supportive of the initiative.

“If me also doing it helps put pressure on those platforms to help fight against it, then for sure, I’m happy to do so.

“I’m really proud to hear that there are so many organisations getting involved.

“I’m not sure why Formula One is not part of that, but I probably will follow and support this weekend.”

The Briton also sent a message to social media companies, asking them to work harder to clamp down on abuse across their platforms.

He added: “I was subject to abuse a long, long time ago, at a time when I was younger, when I was reading social media, reading like many people do, trying to engage with people.

“But there was a period of time where I had to understand that firstly you can’t read every comment that’s on there, and you can’t take it personally.

“If you let those things get to you, then they can ruin your day.

“But I do believe that social media companies need to do more.

“There’s algorithms, there’s things they’re able to see, they’re able to take steps to help and create more of an anti-racist society. That’s what we’ve got to be pushing towards.”

F1 has released a statement expressing support for “the actions of the Premier League and other sporting bodies and athletes”, but didn’t commit to the blackout.

Express Sport is proud to stand in solidarity with everyone who faces hate and discrimination online. Our sports social media accounts will be silent from 3pm on Friday 30 April to midnight on Monday 3 May. We stand with football against hate.

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