Thursday, June 9, 2011

Players Associations, Sports Leagues, the NCAA, and the Olympics Must Say No To Social Media Monitoring of Athletes

Professional and amateur sports must say no to forcing social media monitoring software (e.g. malware) on their professional, amateur, and student athletes. Criminals in prison and those under house arrest need to be monitored and tracked; however, young men and women should be provided social media life skills.

Institutions that deploy social media monitoring services are wasting their precious resources since crowdsourcing already performs this service for free. Monitoring athletes' social media usage is a reactive approach that is doomed to failure. A recent CBS Sports article touted social media monitoring of professional and amateur athletes as something that both labor and management could agree on. The article further states that within 2-3 minutes after an alleged inappropriate post a cautionary e-mail is sent to both the monitor (a school or franchise) and an athlete. What the article does not discuss is that once a Tweet or a Facebook post has been made it can never be deleted from the Internet. Within seconds, a Tweet can be re-tweeted and a Facebook post can be shared hundreds of times.

Therefore, how can social media monitoring help? It can't. Remember Congressman Weiner's accidental tweet that was meant to be a direct message. Within a few minutes after Mr. Weiner Tweeted a message to a college student that included a link to a photograph of himself in his underwear he tried to delete it. However, once content has been uploaded online it is too late. Mr. Weiner learned this the hard way (no pun intended). Thousands of people were following Mr. Weiner on Twitter so no social media monitoring service could have saved Mr. Weiner from his own stupidity.

Social Media monitoring is like using a condom after sex. It is too late to offer any protection. Once an alleged inappropriate message has been sent out via social media a monitoring service is worthless because it can't protect an athlete or an institution from the consequences of an alleged inappropriate post. Social Media monitoring services are unable to offer protection because they are reactive and not proactive. In other words, these services are fool's gold.

There are multiple major legal issues involved with social media monitoring of athletes. These may include First Amendment, employment, and tort liability issues. Those organizations that deploy social media monitoring of their athletes are not only wasting their time and money on a worthless reactive service, but they also are creating major legal liability issues. Furthermore, it is very easy to change a social media account name and there is the problem of fake accounts and hacked accounts.

The bottom line is that professional and amateur sports organizations along with colleges and universities should not deploy social media monitoring of their athletes unless they are interested in wasting their money and incurring unanticipated legal liabilities.

To learn how to avoid social media legal liability in professional and amateur sports you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

Copyright 2011 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.

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