Friday, October 26, 2012

Universities monitor social media use of student athletes, sometimes flouting the law; could employers follow suit?

Sean Gregory has a piece in Time Magazine,  Oct. 22, 2012, p. 56, “Jock Police: Should colleges censor the posts and tweets of their athletes,” link here

Some colleges ban their athletes from Twitter, Facebook (and probably YouTube and Blogger) altogether.  A few school athletic departments require students to give them access to privacy-controlled areas of their social media sites, and Utah State University, at least, requires students to waive any rights to legal protections of their social media pages under the law.  The university specially requires the student to give it the right to break the law.

Generally, universities are concerned about speech that could reflect poorly on the school, particularly with respect to issues like drugs and underage drinking. There are companies that sell universities software that students must install on their own computers that allow athletic departments to monitor speech.  They tend to look for keywords and assess points for certain words (“party” can be a bad word).

These companies include Varsity Monitor (link) and Udiligence (“Reputation Management for Student Athletes, link ).
What would stop ordinary employers from doing the same thing?  Maybe landlords, condo associations, even assisted living communities? 

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