There has been an ongoing debate regarding protected (or private) tweets versus public tweets, and where the accounts of student-athletes should land. Note: This conversation is completely different on Facebook, where you have more control over your privacy settings, and where your personal info can be visible to those you connect with.
Public accounts are just that, public. Every tweet can be read and shared (or Retweeted). If your account is set to “Public”, anybody can follow you on Twitter. Anybody with internet access can read your tweets, even if they don’t have a Twitter account.
There’s a growing trend, and it’s a good one, where universities are investing in software that monitors what their student-athletes are saying on social media. This issue came about after UNC was sanctioned by the NCAA for a “failure to monitor social media.” How does it work? You plug in certain words that you don’t want your student-athletes mentioning on Twitter. It could be anything. Violence-related, sexual, drugs, alcohol, agents, money, etc. When a student tweets something with one of your “red-alert” words, somebody in the department gets a notification and you deal with it appropriately.
It is something we offer through FieldTrack, our real-time monitoring service where we also track what is being said to and about your student-athletes by 3rd parties. This is to help ensure compliance with your department’s social media regulations (remember – the NCAA does not have any social media guidelines), as well as to protect the image of your student-athletes and uncover opportunities for continued education and discussion. Missing a game is not near as severe as losing out on a future job because of an unfortunate tweet.
Tom Satkowiak, Associate Media Relations Director/Sports Information Director for men’s basketball at the University of Tennessee, recently created an incredibly thorough list of Twitter tips for Division I student-athletes. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I thought it would be a better and more efficient idea to share his list here. Read it, share it, and leave any questions in the comments. And be sure to follow Tom on Twitter: