Thursday, August 25, 2011

UK government pledges not to ban social media

According to the Guardian newspaper, the British government has pledged not to shut down social media during civil unrest. Home Secretary Theresa May told representatives of Research in Motion, Facebook, and Twitter that they have no intention of restricting internet services during public demonstrations.

This is a win for free speech and a major statement against censorship and totalitarianism. Dictators restrict the freedom of ideas when they do not agree with them but democracies do not. Blaming the UK's recent riots on social media would be the same as blaming the Arab Spring on social media.

The Gutenberg press, the telegraph, the telephone, radio, television, etc... never made people riot against their government. These technologies only enabled people to more freely connect and express their opinions with one another. Social Media may allow complete strangers with similar interests to interact with each other; however, social media does not make a person throw a Molotov cocktail at a government building.

Shutting down social media platforms and/or other forms of electronic communications during civil unrest may have unintended consequences. What if someone who is injured during a riot is unable to call for help because their communication device has been rendered inoperable due to a government shut down? In addition, a recent study by the Guardian has shown that it appears that social media was mainly utilized to react to the riots in the UK.

The bottom line is that governments should work to cure the problems that may cause civil unrest instead of blaming new electronic technologies that they do not fully understand.

To learn more about this issue you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

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

Social Media, Sports Media, NCAA Compliance, and Student-Athletes

When posting content on the Internet/Social Media it is imperative to be very careful what you say and how you say it. Everyone is capable of a slip of the tongue once in awhile. However, when comments are put online they become permanent. After one has been notified of an Internet/Social Media slip of the tongue he/she may want to quickly apologize and/or correct the record because in the Social Media Age you must realize that everything you put online has the ability to go viral and cause damage to your reputation very quickly.

On August 24, 2011, I read a Foxsports.com article by Jennifer Floyd Engel, entitled, "If the NCAA won't police self, NFL should". The article discussed Terrelle Pryor's five game suspension that was handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for what appears to be Pryor's behavior while a student-athlete at Ohio State. The NFL's disciplinary system is covered by its collective bargaining agreement and Goodell has wide latitude in punishing NFL players for their conduct on and off the field.

Ms. Engel brings up some interesting points regarding whether the NFL should discipline NCAA student-athletes for transgressions that occurred before they join the NFL. The NCAA has a problem on its hands regarding enforcement of its rules and regulations and Goodell's suspension of Pryor with what may be the blessing of the NFLPA could deter student-athletes from allegedly violating NCAA rules in the future. The recent problems at the University of Miami, the University of North Carolina, the University of Southern California, and Ohio State demonstrate that something needs to be done to deter NCAA violations.

However, Ms. Engel states, "Roger [NFL Commissioner] sent a clear message that the NFL will no longer be a safe harbor for college football terrorists"and "[w]hile the little terrorists (or those so accused by a very-little, admitted money terrorist, Shapiro) all have cushy landing spots — at Texas Tech and Missouri and the NFL..."

Calling student-athletes terrorists who may have violated NCAA rules demonstrates ignorance. Those who Ms. Engel refers to may be NCAA rule violators, rule breakers, or *$&#(@!%, but they are not terrorists. Ms. Engel has every right to refer to student-athletes who may violate NCAA rules and create very difficult situations for the schools, their fellow students, alumni, coaches, etc... as terrorists if she chooses to do so. I notified Ms. Engel that her online comments were inappropriate and her response appears to demonstrate ignorance of the situation. Ms. Engel should really think about the definition of a terrorist before calling some-student athletes terrorists and then defending her position.

Every time a student-athlete or professional athlete posts something online that may be deemed inappropriate members of the media attack them for their online behavior. Should the media call out Ms. Engel in the same manner that it castigates student-athletes and professional athletes when they make what some may deem inappropriate online comments?

To learn more about these issues you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

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