Footballers kick off crowdfunding campaign for new anti abuse app

A wealth manager from Manchester has joined forces with four professional footballers to create a new social media app that aims to stamp out online abuse.

A crowdfunding campaign for the app – OPON – went live this month, with £250,000 needed to move the venture into the build phase.

Danielle Bamber, wealth manager at Tilney, is one of the seven founding members of OPON, which include Watford FC’s Dan Bachmann and Dan Gosling, Sheffield Wednesday’s Josh Windass and Fulham FC captain, Tom Cairney.

The footballers have all had first hand experience of the damage that online abuse can cause and have committed to stamping it out with the app, which will incorporate ID verification to users before they can engage with the community.

The ground-breaking platform, OPON, requires users to upload a form of ID before they can access special features and engagement functionality within the app.

OPON will be the first British-owned social media site and aims to stamp out online abuse by making its users accountable for their actions.

The venture – which is now open for crowdfunding investment – is being supported by some of the biggest names in football, including the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and the Premier League.

Danielle Bamber, one of the founding members of OPON, said: “With the average person spending around two hours and 24 minutes of their day on social media and roughly 70% of users experiencing abuse online, it is no surprise that the mental health of millions is suffering as a result of an unsafe social media space.”

Watford FC goalkeeper and Austrian International, Dan Bachmann, said: “The idea was inspired by events in football but OPON aims to tackle the issues connected with social media, on a global scale: Catfishing, grooming young people for terrorist activity, human trafficking and the horrific abuse that millions of people suffer at the hands of faceless trolling accounts.”

Fellow founding member, Dan Gosling, left Twitter after receiving horrendous abuse on the platform.

He said: “Online abuse is a scourge for millions of people and having personally experienced it, I know just how damaging it can be to our mental health.

“We feel passionately about making a change for the better, so future generations don’t have to suffer the same faceless trolling that social media users risk being subjected to now.”

Figures from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and the Premier League showed that, when asked about the things that have the most detrimental impact to their mental health, 36% of players cited social media as their biggest issue.

PFA figures also revealed that 44 per cent of footballers received online abuse in 2020.

Danielle added: “After the Euro 2020 football tournament, the online abuse of English footballers led Prime Minister Boris Johnson to meet with social media companies, but experts have warned that the global nature of the problem makes it difficult to take legal steps against the perpetrators and that the platforms themselves are not taking measures seriously or quick enough.

“While some automated moderation tools have been brought in and go some way to protecting users, social media platforms are increasingly becoming negative places – both for general users and for influencers who are driving people to them. We want to change that.”

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