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HomesportTennis governing bodies aim to combat online abuse of players

Tennis governing bodies aim to combat online abuse of players

The major governing bodies of tennis on Wednesday said they will aim to protect their athletes from online abuse by monitoring, reporting and helping to identify who is behind threats and other inappropriate contact.

The ITF, WTA, AELTC and USTA will use the Threat Matrix service to monitor players’ public-facing social media for abusive and threatening content on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok beginning Jan. 1.

“This development reflects the commitment of the international tennis bodies involved to protect and support athletes from the mental trauma and potential real-world threat of online harassment and abuse,” the organizations said in a joint release.

Threat Matrix, which uses a combination of artificial intelligence and open-source data, will provide rapid threat assessment of personal safety, alert social platforms of abuse, and support law enforcement agencies in investigations of serious cases.

“The Threat Matrix service will support the identification of abusers, against whom all available measures will be taken,” the bodies said.

“Tennis is committed to supporting its athletes against online abuse, to which this ground-breaking initiative will make a significant contribution.”

Tennis players have said they have seen a rise in online abuse as sports betting has becomes more widespread, with betters who lose money on matches taking their frustrations out on the athletes.

Threat Matrix was commissioned to conduct a study in which it monitored over 1.6 million public posts on X and 19,000 Instagram comments sent to a sample of 454 players competing at a range of professional tennis tournaments in 2022, the bodies said.

One in four players whose accounts were monitored were subject to abuse. Of these, 546 offensive Tweets from 438 accounts were identified, with details and evidence shared with platforms and authorities for action.

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