Broncos hooker Danny Levi has backed calls for social media users to provide 100 points of identification in a bid to prevent “nobodies and cowards” from trolling players online.
Brisbane team-mates Tesi Niu, Tyson Gamble and Jordan Riki were subjected to social media abuse after last Thursday night’s 28-20 loss to Newcastle and Levi said he had been targeted by trolls in the past.
Bulldogs winger Jayden Okunbor was racially vilified on social media after the previous weekend’s loss to the Titans, while a man was convicted last month for racial abuse of Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell earlier this year.
While applauding the Bulldogs and Broncos for taking a stand against the abuse and publicly supporting their players, Levi believes more can be done.
“I still reckon that they need a social media system, like a 100-point ID,” Levi said. “That way it will cut out a lot of trolls and racists.”
A federal parliamentary committee report tabled in April called for users to require 100 points of identification, which could include a driver’s licence, birth certificate, Medicare card or passport, to open or maintain a social media account.
The report suggested that the measure would prevent people from using anonymous social media accounts to abuse and harass others online, but it has not yet been implemented.
In the meantime, the NRL has successfully worked with NSW Police’s fixated persons unit to take action against social media trolls after two men were charged over racial attacks on Mitchell after a match against Wests Tigers in April.
Sydney Roosters centre Josh Morris was also subjected to abusive and threatening social media messages by a disgruntled gambler after his side’s 40-6 defeat of Wests Tigers in March.
Asked if he had been on the receiving end of social media abuse, Levi said “plenty of times” and admitted it could be difficult for players to cope with.
“Obviously sometimes they can get to you but you have just got to remember that they are absolute nobodies and cowards hiding behind keyboards who don’t want to say nothing to your face,” Levi said.
“That’s the way we have to think about it. They are nobodies sitting behind a computer just typing away and doing nothing with their lives.”
The Broncos and Bulldogs have referred the latest incidents involving Niu, Gamble, Riki and Okunbor to the NRL and Levi said players now felt more confident to stand up to social media abuse.
“With the boys having the club backing them, they feel a lot more empowered and a lot more stronger,” Levi said.
“It just adds a bit of accountability to what people are writing. There has been no backlash for people who write those stupid, racist comments.
“They have been getting away with it for years but the boys have a platform there to now stand up and say ‘it’s not right, we are not going to cop that’.
“Hopefully by doing that sort of stuff, it will make those people take a second guess about writing those sorts of things.”