Being proactive in a social media age

Going back to this quote from Bruce Feldman,

… Teams now control more of the access in getting out their coverage. They don’t “need” the newspapers as much as they once did. But with all of that, you also have more accessibility to the players and people involved through technology, which means there’s more potential pitfalls for the colleges to cope with. The Marvin Austin and A.J. Green stories grew out of social networking situations.

… I’m wondering about something.  Richt has said that the program monitors things like whether the players are staying on top of license registration, but is anyone keeping an eye on what gets posted on their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds?  If Chris Hawkins courted A.J. on his Facebook page as he claims he did, had someone at Georgia been tracking that, could the whole mess have been avoided?

I’m certainly not a social media guru – I don’t have a Facebook page – but I have access to someone who is.  My 21-year old who’s a senior in Athens assures me it wouldn’t have been hard to keep up with their exchanges, if Hawkins’ story is true.  I’ll take her word for it.  Maybe it’s something worth attending to.  By the way, should anyone in the athletic department be looking for someone to start tracking social media, she’s happy to offer her services.


Filed under Georgia Football, Science Marches Onward

25 responses to “Being proactive in a social media age

  1. Adam

    what Hawkins said was that he sent him a message via facebook – which would only be easily tracked if
    a) it was a public posting on AJ’s wall (highly unlikely) or
    b) it was a private message, but the team requires the players to share their passwords.

  2. Chris

    It really depends on how they had their “conversation” on Facebook. AJ’s profile seems to be pretty open and he is “friends” with a ton of people (including still Chris Hawkins).

    Most likely the real conversation were happening through the internal messaging system in Facebook which is essentially like simple email, and not public, or through the actual chat client, which again is no public and would be impossible to monitor in a way that anyone would agree to.

    • How open is the list of people who use the internal messaging system? In other words, could the school monitor whom a player is having conversations with without actually accessing the messages themselves?

      • rbubp

        Not open at all. If they used the internal messaging system it would have been private enough you’d have to contact Facebook to get access to it.

        I don’t see how the school could monitor that unless they contact Facebook and get this rather unusual privilege. I wonder, given the heat Facebook has received regarding privacy, if Facebook would play along under such circumstances–my guess is they would not unless they have some kind of arrangement for that already (I doubt it).

        • Rick

          Facebook has done some stupid things, but they know better than to tempt that degree of internet wrath.

        • No One Knows You're a Dawg

          The school could ask the players for access to their accounts, but that would be like asking players 25 years ago if you could open all their mail and listen in on all their phone conversations. It would be possible to ask to be able to only see who the player was “friending”, and be on the lookout for any “redflag” types. I think the best method though is to try and drill it into the players’ heads that the risks of early contact with an agent outweigh the possible rewards. Tell them they don’t want to be the next Reggie Bush-the guy who took down his own program (and who still has to deal with questions about it).

      • Rival

        There is also a “chat” feature with settings to disable any history.

        So a Facebook “friend” can hit you up on chat and there would be no record.

  3. Rick


    I would be astonished if this didn’t happen through facebook “messages” (rather than public posts).

    In that case, you can monitor it as well as you can monitor their personal email, which is of course “not at all” (as it should be).

    • So what’s Feldman referring to?

      • Rick

        It’s hard to tell from what I can see (I don’t know if he elaborates in the “insider” part). It looks like we don’t know what the actual method of communication is, which is why I assume it’s the messaging system.

        And no, there would be absolutely no clues to anyone other than AJ and Hawkins that the communication took place, because they don’t have to be “friends” to communicate in that way. Perhaps that is why AJ thought he could get away with it? I certainly would have found it very tempting, anyway.

        • rbubp

          I would bet that is EXACTLY why AJ thought he could get away with it.

          • Rick

            And also makes me wonder how he did get caught. As long as both parties were satisfied with the transaction, it shouldn’t have been hard to pretend like it didn’t happen.

            Maybe AJ just got asked some very specific questions, and just thought better to tell the truth than risk the whole season?

            • rbubp

              Maybe Hawkins told him what he was about in a way was not nearly as innocent as he claims.

            • No One Knows You're a Dawg

              I’m sure the NCAA, in their investigation of MiamiGate, asked some general catchall questions of AJ regarding possible improper behavior. Stuff like, “Ever sold any of your football stuff while at UGA?”

              I’m also sure that going into his meeting with the NCAA, AJ was told not to lie to the investigators because that will only make things 10 times worse with the NCAA (as Bruce Pearl is now finding out /happy Snoopy dance) and would set him up for being blackmailed by Hawkins. So when the investigators asked a catchall question about whether he’s ever sold anything, AJ just went ahead and told them he had.

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                That is probably right on. No evidence except what an honest kid said. If I am a HC or AD I’m not letting NCAA investigators talk to my players ever. Let the NCAA try to suspend someone, penalize the team or school or do anything else negative with no evidence. If they try, see you at the courthouse. NCAA bring your checkbook because we’re seeking damages plus attorney fees and costs.

      • rbubp

        Like Rick alludes to, Feldman is saying that anyone can attempt to contact anyone else on Facebook whether you know them or not. The message recipient can then choose to answer, ignore, or delete just as in email.

        If AJ did not know who this guy was and what he wanted, it is very hard to imagine Hawkins’ overtures were anywhere near as innocent as he made them sound. One has to think fans send random messages to players all the time, right? So either AJ had prior knowledge of Hawkins or Hawkins was aggressive in clarifying that he was not a typical fan.

  4. Mike

    You and I come from the same era, Senator, so all this new social networking is a bit foreign to us. However, as a Father of three adult daughters, I discovered early that Facebook is one way to keep up with them. So me and my wife signed up.

    I think the same thing could be done with players. The compliance office could have one person assigned to Facebook and Twitter.

  5. AthensHomerDawg

    If players don’t want you to know what they do or say on Facebook then you won’t know. End of story.

  6. Scorpio Jones, III

    Wonder if they are talking about Facebook in Tuscaloosa this morning?


  7. ChicagoDawg

    This is a rat hole. Privacy issue would preclude any real and meaningful survillance, as well it should. It is not unlike checking cell phone records and the like. As has been mentioned, there is personal messaging components within facebook (chat and emai) that are not on the page sites that would be viewable by friends. Programs that claim to be monitoring this are just ticking a box and making themselves feel better, but it is a false sense of security.

  8. Mike

    Anybody heard anything about the twittering Akeem Dent was doing during the game?

  9. gernblanski

    I doubt the NCAA simply asked AJ about selling his stuff. From the looks of things, they had a pretty good handle about improprieties at UNC. My guess is that while they asked AJ about the party in Miami, they already knew some of the facts about Hawkins.

    Since AJ was not suspended for the season, we can assume that he was honest about it.

    Selling the jersey was not a smart thing to do in the first place. Selling to someone that you know only via Facebook was really not smart.

  10. shane#1

    I would never use Facebook or anything of the sort. My personal life is none of anyones buisness. A few of my football blog friends have my personal e-mail address and know who I am, but that is as far as it goes. I started posting on the AJC blogs. ’nuff said?