He made the decision in late March after a spate of online racial abuse against black soccer players and the inability of social media companies to hold users accountable for their actions.
“At the very beginning, you know, I was in a kind of weird mood, shall I say, we talked a lot in those moments and I thought, ‘People don’t see what’s at stake here and what problem we have in this society just now. ‘
“But I’ve always talked and always mentioned the strength of the pack, and sometimes when you’re alone shouting something you feel lonely – but I’m not talking about myself, I’m talking about the people who dress I have no voice, I’m talking about the people who have been abused and harassed for looking what they think their skin is on social media.
“Maybe if, as you know, I get off social media and stand up for the people who may not have a voice, maybe you can create a wave by getting off social media. People would like to know why and you wanted to know why. But there was a little time after that where I said, ‘Well, it’s a shame people don’t respond.’ “
Although both Twitter and Instagram – owned by Facebook – have recently announced measures to combat the problem, online racist abuse by black footballers has continued.
When Henry first made the decision to delete his social media accounts, the 43-year-old told CNN he hoped to inspire others to stand up against online racial abuse and bullying. Five weeks later, his actions certainly had the desired effect.
Starting Friday, April 30th, 3:00 p.m. CET, clubs from the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship as well as the game’s governing bodies and organizations such as Kick It Out will take part in three days of Social Media Blackout.
Some of the UK’s biggest media outlets such as Sky Sports and BT Sport will also participate in the blackout, which will end on Monday 3rd May at 11:59 p.m. CET.
“If it [coming off social media] can have a small impact and have an impact … that requires the strength of the pack, “says Henry.” When I saw it happened recently, I was actually happy about it, but I thought about it all the people who have been waiting for it for a very long time. It’s a great tool that we talked about, but people sometimes use it as a weapon.
“I like the fact that people actually realize that it is … powerful when we get together. I realized that maybe I was causing a little ripple in the media and getting people to answer some questions. So Now when I saw what happened and what will happen over the weekend, I said, “OK, OK, it’s a beginning, it’s a beginning.”
“A lot of people are – I’m not saying they wake up because everyone was aware of it – but now they’re loud and have the same energy that they put into the Super League. It looks like we are to get.” To try bravely to get these big companies to answer the questions we have and I know it is not easy on their side either, but that is your job. “
Since the boycott was announced, both Twitter and Facebook have reiterated their desire to remove all forms of abuse from their platforms.
“We don’t want any discriminatory abuse on Instagram or Facebook,” a Facebook spokesman told CNN. “We share a goal of addressing it and holding people who share it accountable. We do this by taking action on content and accounts that violate our rules, and by working with law enforcement if we have one received a valid legal request.
“We are committed to combating hatred and racism on our platform, but we also know these problems are bigger than us. So we look forward to continuing our collaboration with industry partners to address the problem – both online and online offline.”
When asked by CNN about Henry’s continued absence from their platform, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN: “Racist behavior, abuse and harassment have absolutely no place in our ministry and alongside our partners in football, we condemn racism in all its forms.
“We are determined to ensure that the football talk in our service is safe for fans, players and everyone involved in the game.
“Racism is a deep social and complex issue, and everyone has a role to play. We are determined to do our part and continue to work closely with valued partners in football, government and police, as well as the working group convened by Kick It Out to Identify Ways to tackle this problem together – both online and off social media. “
According to Twitter, it tried to contact Henry and would appreciate the opportunity to speak to him.
CNN believes Instagram was in constant contact with Henry’s rep before he left social media and has been ever since.
Henry tells CNN that he didn’t speak to anyone directly on Instagram, but that the social media company did reach out to its agents. Henry declined the opportunity to meet anyone on Instagram as he has always maintained a priority for social media companies to take action to end the abuse.
“Like I told you, we have so many, so many discussions,” he says. “I just want action. That’s it. What are we going to talk about? Tell me what [statement] did you just get out? What will it be: a discussion by the way, or are you just going to tell me what’s going to happen? “
Henry says the blackout is a welcome move but warns against complacency. He understands that it will continue to be an uphill battle and admits that he may never make it to fruition, but he is unwavering in his commitment to the fight.
“”[What] The world of English football is doing that right now and what will happen over the weekend people ask me, “is it enough, the weekend?” And I say, “It’s a beginning.” You know, you can’t be too greedy if you don’t have anything to do with it, “he says.” It is a beginning. But yes, we have one vote, we have one vote overall.
“We can actually make people aware of our disapproval and hope that things can change. If you don’t do something, nothing would ever change. As I always said, you know if you try to do something, you can Succeed or not but you make people aware of it and you will have an impact along the way.
“Maybe not this year, maybe not in two years, maybe not in three years. We may not see it, but you have to do something while you come over.”