More colleges are tackling student athletes' tweets through the use of social media policies.
Most college athletes are between the ages of 18 and 22. If you remember the things you probably said when you were that age, you probably wish that you could take a lot of it back.
Unfortunately for college athletes on Twitter, they often post, shall we say, poorly thought-out statements to thousands of their followers. And because of the nature of the Internet, what they say can stick around forever, get retweeted, and then get picked up by mainstream sports media.
As a result, colleges are now going on the offensive. The University of Michigan recently formalized their social media policy. This follows other schools that developed policies to police certain language or to monitor student social media accounts, reports AnnArbor.com.
Michigan's policy is relatively straightforward and advises students:
- Not to post when they're emotional,
- Not to use offensive language or slurs, and
- Not to tweet during class.
Athletes who violate the policy can be reprimanded and face suspension, according to AnnArbor.com.
You will notice that Michigan's policy is not that restrictive, as it does not really regulate the content of students' speech. Instead, it just advises them of when not to tweet and to avoid offensive language.
Michigan's policy can be contrasted with some more restrictive policies at other schools. For example, Utah State University requires that student athletes allow school officials to access their private accounts. The University of Kentucky bars its athletes from using a long list of words on Twitter like "pony," "panties," and "fight." Other school sports programs just prohibit the use of Twitter altogether.
While barring student speech at a public university may seem like a violation of the students' free speech rights, so far no student athletes have challenged the policies.
- Athletes' social media use monitored by Athletic Department (The Michigan Daily)
- Olympic Athletes Free to Tweet, Facebook Away (Sort of) (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- Twitter Rant Costs Man Job, Unemployment Benefits (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)