RCPsych takes part in boycott of social media in response to the failure of platforms to tackle online abuse

Statement / comment
27 May 2021

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is joining a social media boycott in protest of the lack of action that is being taken by social media platforms to protect their users from racism and other forms of abuse.

The boycott - organised by the British Dietetic Association - is being joined by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the College of Paramedics and other organisations.

During the boycott, which runs from 3pm on Friday 28 May until 11.59pm on Monday 31 May, we will not be posting to the College’s main social media accounts. 

This boycott is to show our support for victims of online abuse and to highlight that we, like many others, are not satisfied with the actions that social media platforms are taking. 

We are calling upon Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other companies to take meaningful steps to resolve the racism and other forms of discrimination that are posted on their platforms. 

What are we going to do?

We acknowledge that we need to do more to fight inequalities and discrimination than just boycotting social media for a few days and we are committed to taking action and playing our part.

As an organisation, we are working to promote equality, diversity and inclusion for our members, members of the multi-disciplinary team working in mental health services, patients, carers and our staff. In January, we published a 29-point RCPsych Equality Action Plan, which sets out an ambitious plan for us to help deliver equality and equitable outcomes across our own organisation and mental health services.   

Just as we will not tolerate any form of discrimination in the workplace, neither will we accept it on social media. We will take action against individuals or groups who are working with the College and who produce or disseminate social media posts that contravene our College’s values. 

We will not tolerate discriminatory online abuse of our patients, carers, members or staff and, where relevant, we will work with the police and authorities to support any possible prosecutions. 

We will do everything reasonably practical to protect our staff and members from discriminatory online abuse.

Steps we have already taken

As well as publishing the RCPsych Equality Action Plan, we also promote equality, diversity and inclusion by marking Pride, Black History Month, International Women’s Day and South Asian History Month as major events in the College calendar.

Our President Dr Adrian James has also made equality and diversity one of the key priorities in our 2021-23 strategy and he is proud to be a board member of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, which promotes race equality across the NHS.

We have a long-standing commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion – and, in 2019, we won Charity of the Year in the European Diversity Awards.

Our website collates various RCPsych resources that illustrate best practice in addressing inequalities in mental health.  

 A longer list of our previous equality work is also available.

How you can help

Most social media platforms allow you to block or mute users and also to report incidents.

We strongly advise that should you receive or witness hateful, discriminatory and/or abusive comments or content online, you report this to the relevant social media platform. 

Each platform has its own reporting mechanism, and we have listed these below for ease of use:

Reporting crimes to the police

You should report incidents directly to the police if you have been a victim of a crime or if you feel a crime has been committed through social media.

You can also report incidents to the police via Twitter. To do so, please use your local constabulary social media accounts or call 111.

More information from the Metropolitan Police on reporting hate crimes or harassment is provided below.

Reporting hate crimes and harassment: