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Orwellian Social Media Monitoring in Collegiate Athletics
May 24, 2012 - 9:02pm

Admittedly, it's been a few years since I last read 1984 by George Orwell. However, the themes of widespread surveillance and "thoughtcrimes" are generally applicable to all sorts of present day issues. One of the curiosities that has emerged in the area of social media communications is the monitoring of student athlete accounts. The usual rationale is that this will benefit the student when the needle usually moves more towards protecting an institutions image. At least 3 companies (Varsity Monitor, UDiligence, and Fieldhouse Media) offer social media monitoring services for collegiate athletics. I've mentioned a couple of them in a previous post. Whilst perusing through Twitter the other day, I came across a tweet that brought this topic back to my radar:



Another example of how Twitter is such a terrific fire-hose of information, Severy's tweet linked up a company that I had never seen before. As Severy continued to dig and engage with folks, he asked a necessary question.

The teachable moment perspective is definitely lacking in the marketing copy for UDiligence. And, while Varsity Monitor does acknowledge the importance of education, I am concerned about their privacy policy. Do student athletes that use social media sites not deserve the same privacy options of our non-athlete students? Fieldhouse Media lists the education of student athletes as their primary operating philosophy. However, Fieldhouse Media's homepage marketing copy lists "protection, future, and reputation" as part of their sales pitch.

For more on social media monitoring in collegiate athletics, check out this in-depth post over at Deadspin. It really feels more like Orwell's 1984 than 2012. When did we stop educating our student athletes and start monitoring them for social media "thoughtcrimes," or even worse, for "brandcrimes"?

What do you think…is social media monitoring good, bad, or ugly?


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