In order to be a top-notch public administrator in the current age, social networking must not be ignored and must be implemented into regulations and everyday use. According to Facebook.com, there are over 500 million active users on Facebook. While Facebook began as a network for college students it has evolved into a global nexus that is a part of every day lives for hundreds of million of people.
One issue we have come across in the athletic department about Facebook and Twitter is what student-athletes will post on their pages. We have had several not-so-flattering images appear on gossip blog sites (such as TheDirty.com) and have seen rants from student-athletes regarding their coaches. A few of our athletes have lost scholarships due to what they post online being released publicly. At the University of Oregon, a student-athlete was dismissed from the team due to a racially charged Facebook post. Student-athletes are college students and like most college students, they want to be able to utilize social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. There is a line that needs to be drawn since they do represent the university and how do we do this?
What the ASU athletic department has done is give presentations at the beginning of the season on what to post and not post on Twitter and Facebook. They are informed of what the consequences their posts could lead to and are given examples of what could happen. We have basically utilized the “Don’t post anything you don’t want your grandma to see” policy.
In my opinion, we need to implement something stronger than what we currently have. According to Lessig, “the law chooses between direct and indirect regulation” (p. 129), in the case of student-athletes, I believe direct regulation is more plausible. I don’t think we need to go as far as Kent State, who had temporarily banned student-athletes from using Facebook, but I do believe there needs to more of a policy what we have currently in place. My ideas would include the following:
• All student-athletes need to have their profiles blocked from everyone not their friends
• All student-athletes need to make photos tagged of them private
• All under-aged student-athletes will not post party pictures or pictures with alcohol presents. Student-athletes that are over 21 will not have pictures with alcohol as their profile picture.
• Student-athletes will not discuss coaching decisions or coaches on Social Media pages, including but not limited to blogs, Facebook, Twitter
• Student-athletes who use racist or discriminating language on Social Media pages will be subjected to dismissal from team and loss of scholarship
• Student-athletes will not be allowed to post on Social Media sites the day of the game until after the event has taken place, similar to a policy the NFL utilizes
These policies would be set in place to protect the student-athletes and teach them how to use Social Media responsibly. It will also be used to help the athletic department not have a media relations disaster. Another suggestion would be to have a representative from every team (a coach, operations, academic coach or sports information director) befriend their student-athletes. I would also propose this regulation be placed on the main athletic website under compliance to create transparency. By implementing a policy such as this, we would be able to protect both the student-athletes and the department.