“Big Brother is Watching You!”… Colleges Hire Outside Firms to Monitor Athletes’ Posting on Social Media
“So here’s how it works…if your son or daughter wants to play intercollegiate sports at our university, he or she has to first sign a waiver that gives us access to all of her social media, including the password to their Facebook account, twitter account, and so on.”
Can that be possible? Isn’t that illegal? Isn’t that an invasion of privacy?
According to law professor Doug Abrams, actually, this IS possible….it’s NOT illegal…and it’s NOT an invasion of privacy.
I’m oversimplifying, of course, but more and more colleges and universities with big-time sports programs don’t want to risk having one of their athletes post something in cyberspace that might somehow jeopardize the overall athletic department. According to an excellent article by Pete Thamel in the NY Times, this is exactly what happened to the football program at the Univ of North Carolina, when a player posted a tweet that mentioned that he received some free (and illegal) benefits.
That tweet caught the NCAA’s eye, an investigation ensued, and UNC ended up being punished by losing 15 scholarships and not being able to go to a bowl game.
With millions on the line for major sports programs, no athletic director wants to be tripped up by some poorly thought-out comment online by an athlete. As a result, colleges are now hiring outside services to monitor the activities of their athletes in cyberspace.
The lesson? Student-athletes have to be strongly educated and cautioned about the kinds of comments and opinions they post online. As Professor Abrams suggests, the best way to do that is to be proactive and lto aunch a major offensive which educates young athletes to THINK TWICE before tweeting or writing comments on Facebook.
Don’t forget the example of Yuri Wright, the top HS football prospect from northern NJ. He wrote some stupid tweets, and within 24 hours, the Univ of Michigan rescinded its scholarship off and his HS (a parochial school) expelled him.
The bottom line? Yes, colleges and most likely high schools CAN monitor your kid’s online postings. Better to warn your kids now before they suffer the consequences.