Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tweeting Can Be Hazardous to Your Game

Twitter is currently in the fad stage of American Society. It is trying to move into the mainstream to become as ubiquitous as email but only time will tell if this will happen. I have a Twitter account but I do not use it often because I do not think people want to know what I am doing all the time. I doubt my followers would be interested in knowing what type of diaper my son had this morning and whether I changed it.

As an attorney, most of the things that people would be interested in hearing me tweet about are priviledged attorney-client communications. Therefore, I rarely tweet since some of the things I could possibly say may provide a clue as to whom I am representing, the type of matter I am working on, or a possible strategy that I may be thinking about employing on a client matter.

The U.S. Open has joined the NFL and some Fortune 500 Companies in instituting a social media policy. The NFL announced yesterday that its players will be allowed to utilize social media during the season. However, NFL players, coaches, and football operations personnel will not be authorized to use social media 90 minutes before a game or during a game. The last time I checked the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement I didn't see anything directly relating to social media so until this issue is collectively bargained I think this policy strikes a good balance between employee and employer rights.

However, the United States Tennis Association's (USTA) Twitter policy appears ambiguous and difficult to enforce. The USTA's policy appears to try to control the actions of not just its members but also its member's "entourages." As anyone who has watched the funny HBO series Entourage, controlling a member of your entourage is not always as easy as you may believe. Therefore, the USTA's social media may sound like a great idea but for all practical purposes it is almost impossible to hold a player responsible for the tweets of another.

In order for both the NFL and USTA's social media policies to be successful they need to be:

1) Collectively bargained or negotiated between the parties so a mutually acceptable policy is crafted.

2) Clear and unambiguous so all parties know what is expected.

3) Enforced in a consistent manner so all parties know the consequences for non-compliance.

Copyright 2009 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.