French football legend Thierry Henry quits social media over 'toxic' racism, abuse

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Head coach Thierry Henry of Montreal Impact takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Head coach Thierry Henry of Montreal Impact takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Former French national team striker Thierry Henry has said he is quitting all social media until platforms do more to tackle racism and harassment, becoming the latest celebrity to scale down their online presence over abuse.

In a statement shared with his combined 14.8 million followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the former Arsenal player said he would remove himself from all social media as of Saturday.

"The sheer volume of racism, bullying and resulting mental torture is too toxic to ignore," he wrote, calling for greater "accountability" online.

"It is far too easy to create an account, use it to bully and harass without consequence and still remain anonymous," he added.

"Until this changes, I will be disabling my accounts across all social platforms. I'm hoping this happens soon."

Like many tech giants, Twitter is under increasing scrutiny for facilitating torrents of invective against users, commonly from anonymous accounts, in posts that are often racist or misogynistic.

Henry, the all-time top scorer for France, has long been outspoken on the issue of racism in football and vocal about his own struggles as a high-profile black player.

Twitter said in a statement last week that there was "there is no room for racist abuse" on its platform and that it was working to crack down on abuse against footballers.

But Henry's decision to quit social media comes just days after another prominent user, American model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen, said she was leaving Twitter after facing abuse.

"It's time for me to say goodbye," she wrote in a tweet Wednesday, shortly before deactivating her account, which had more than 13 million followers.

"My desire to be liked and fear of pissing people off has made me somebody you didn't sign up for, and a different human than I started out here as! Live well, tweeters."

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