Silencing The Redundant

I think I only follow one footballer on Twitter and he is an ex-Celtic player so this isn’t anything that is likely to affect me too much but I am always uneasy about headlines like this…

Premier League issues social networking guidance for players

The Premier League has drawn up guidelines for players about how to use social media. 

They offer advice on the endorsement of brands, goods and services and also warn players not to reveal confidential information about team matters.

I don’t like things like this because even though they say “guidelines” and not “rules” or “laws”, it still seems that people are being told what they can and cannot say. Transgressors of the guidelines are likely to be punished.

Although I personally might not want to follow too many players (though I do follow a lot of fan media) that is beside the point.  These guidelines are still a little whittling away of free speech at the margins, and the fact it is done so publicly normalises the little loss too.

I am sure there have been “guidelines” given to olympic athletes about what they can and cannot say as well.

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One comment

  1. Hi Mike – Curiously enough I’m doing a bit of work on social media guidelines for the NUJ Public Relations and Communication Council at the moment. I’m trying to balance the sides of the debate: You have realities of employees potentially bringing their employer (or themselves!) into disrepute, which is something most employers (and individuals) try to guard against in the non-social media world and consequently would seek to avoid in social media too. Then you have the the notion of being seen to try to limit free speech.

    However, most employers have guidance or rules about their employees appearance in traditional media, particularly when it impacts on their ‘day’ job. This isn’t seen as limiting free speech as such – you can still do it. However, there may be consequences of that free speech, as there are for other kinds of free speech, whether that be cheering the ‘wrong’ side in the home end of a football match; explaining just why the bride shouldn’t marry the groom while they’re at the altar or just what you think of your boss on a Friday night whilst in their earshot!

    Above and beyond that, too may people don’t seem to recognise that social media are subject to the same laws as other writing, pictures and so forth, whether that be laws about libel, insighting racial hatred or whatever…

    The best guidelines are based on consultation – and this is where the benefits of decent trade union representation can make a huge difference – whether dealing with social media guidelines, traditional media guidelines or any other terms and conditions of employment. Anyway, anyone wanting delve into a vast swathe of policies already out there can access them here: http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php

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