It’s senior year of high school, and with the academic year just beginning no one could be more excited for everyone’s favorite season, Friday night football. Amidst the several traditions of my high school alma mater, was the series of football/cheerleading pranking feuds to initiate the season. Not to bore you with too much detail, this is not a memoir of my past experience in affiliation with either team. Rather it was the first time I had realized social media had its unexpected consequences. In attempt to advertise the success of their pranking events, a series of pictures were posted on Facebook portraying members of the cheer team chalking ‘inappropriate male biological parts’ on a number of football players’ driveways. Though the Facebook accounts and albums were set as private to their selected number of friends, administration soon encountered these images and banned the photographed members from the team that football season.
Though my high school was a privately religious Episcopalian institution, we were all still amazed by how our ‘privacy’ on social media could easily be invaded. With the privacy feature on almost every mode of social networking site, it seems convincing that we can hide undesired content from those we do not wish to share our online profiles with. Aside from making our accounts ‘private’, social savvy individuals are further altering their names on social media (i.e. the classic change my last name to my middle name on Facebook) so that future employers and academia may not ‘stalk’ their profiles. In recent news, College sports have begun to take a hard stance on social media and its use by their student athletes. However this poses as a controversial question, what happened to one’s freedom of speech?
With the notoriety that the NCAA brings to campuses across the nation, it seems reasonable why school’s attempt to monitor athletes’ social accounts. However what constitutes “monitoring” and have universities gone too far in protecting their public image? In recent news, Clemson University and Florida State University have banned football players’ use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat during their season. Reasoning behind this decision has been justified by the idea that although student athletes are not particularly professionally paid they may rise to higher status of popularity and thus serve as important public figures. Senior writer for CIO Magazine Lauren Brousell addresses this issue commenting, “Social media bans and usage limitations meant to restrict college athletes raise the questions of whether or not academic institutions violate players’ rights, and if they should have to adhere to the same standards as corporations.”
Commonly in work corporations, employers are adopting social media policies to keep up with the technologically innovative age. Though these policies are typically unclear, their main objective is to prevent employees from behaving or posting inappropriate content that would attract negative publicity to their company. In order to accomplish this it is important for organizations to educate their employees about smart social media usage. However due to the fact colleges are comprised of a larger demographic that utilizes social media more readily, universities such as Clemson and FSU have taken greater measures to avoid negative publicity. Rather than simply banning the use of every social media site possible, mentors and coaches should instead educate students on the ethics of social media and what is deemed appropriate when one is affiliated with a collegiate institution.
Not all social media has its dark side. We tweet and post statuses on Twitter and Facebook so that we can encourage others to support our cause. We Instagram images that represent something we are proud we’ve accomplish. And we Snapchat story important or just silly moments in our day so that we can make others laugh. So how reasonable are college sports’ ban on athletes’ social media? Is it irrational or something that will become normative in future years to come?