Add the National Football League to the list of sports orgs laying out specific guidelines for social media. The NFL sent a memo detaining its policy to clubs Monday afternoon and released a statement (published below) focusing on Game Day rules. Key points:
—“The use of social media by NFL game officials and officiating department personnel is prohibited at any time.”
—Players, coaches and football operations personnel can use social media or networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) up to 90 minutes before kickoff and following post-game media interviews. No use during the game or halftime; that includes any representatives using his personal social media accounts. (Interpretation: A friend or agent could tweet under his or her own name but not as the player or coach.)
The policy also lays out social media use rules for media applying “longstanding policies prohibiting play-by-play descriptions of NFL games in progress” to Twitter and the like “so that the accredited organization’s game coverage cannot be used as a substitute for, or otherwise approximate, authorized play-by-play accounts.” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, one of the league’s official tweeters (@NFLprguy), told paidContent the rules are meant to keep the focus on the game and preserve the rights of credentialed media. It’s also meant to protect competitive information during a game but it’s not as draconian as the International Tennis Association Tennis Integrity Unit’s effort to stop U.S. Open tweeting by players.
NFL statement on social media: The NFL informed clubs today that coaches, players and football operations personnel are permitted under league policy and with club permission to use social media on game day during specific time periods before and after games.
League policy allows for the use of social media or networking sites (including Twitter and Facebook) by players, coaches and football operations personnel up to 90 minutes before kickoff and after the game following media interviews.
The use of these sites by these individuals is not permitted during the game, including halftime. No updates are permitted to be posted by the individual himself or anyone representing him during this prohibited time on his personal Twitter, Facebook or any other social media account.
The use of social media by NFL game officials and officiating department personnel is prohibited at any time.
Longstanding policies prohibiting play-by-play descriptions of NFL games in progress apply fully to Twitter and other social media platforms. Internet sites may not post detailed information that approximates play-by-play during a game. While a game is in progress, any forms of accounts of the game must be sufficiently time-delayed and limited in amount (e.g., score updates with detail given only in quarterly game updates) so that the accredited organization’s game coverage cannot be used as a substitute for, or otherwise approximate, authorized play-by-play accounts.
Any use of social media during games by the public relations or website staff on an official club platform must be consistent with the play-by-play policy described above.
The NFLs security department has been successful assisting players in removing fake sites on Facebook and Twitter. Players or other NFL employees who believe they are victims of identity theft by people impersonating them on social media sites are advised to contact the NFLs security department.
The growth of social meia platforms such as Twitter and Facebook has created important new ways for the NFL and clubs to communicate and connect with fans. The NFL has been at the forefront of the use of new media and will continue to emphasize innovative and appropriate use of these new forms of communication.
By Staci D. Kramer