I have been a staunch opponent of suppressing athletes’ ability to communicate on social media platforms (including Facebook and Twitter), but I am certainly a proponent of properly educating those athletes regarding the best practices of using those networks.
Athletes need to understand that the platforms make it relatively easy to post text updates, pictures, and videos, but also just as easy for others to instantly be able to access that content. The hard part is damage control. Once the content is made available, it is tough to take down.
The content spreads like wildfire.
I was recently forwarded a webpage created by Twitter titled, Twitter for Athletes. At first, I was surprised that Twitter took the time to create a page dedicated to informing athletes about best practices for using the service. But the real shock was seeing just how much effort was put forth by the Twitter team to come up with a guide that is actually worthy for all athletes and their agents to view.
In the guide, Twitter covers the proper usage of hashtags, the value of responding to follows and asking questions, and engagement with teammates.
Most importantly, it explains that Twitter can be used by athletes for breaking news and that “a Tweet can be more powerful and personal than a press release.” The power of a Tweet can be a great thing for an athlete, but also terribly disastrous if written without thinking.
See also: Forcing social media silence not the answer for colleges [SportsBusiness Journal]