UK, Louisville monitor athletes’ tweets
By Mark Boxley, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal
Student athletes at the University of Kentucky and most at the University of Louisville surrender their online privacy to their coaches under a social media monitoring system used by both schools, as well as others across the country.
As a condition of participating in sports, the schools require athletes to agree to monitoring software being placed on their social media accounts. This software emails alerts to coaches whenever athletes use a word that could embarrass the student, the university or tarnish their images on services such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace.
The University of Louisville flags 406 words or slang expressions that have to do with drugs, sex, or alcohol. The University of Kentucky flags a similar number, of which 370 are sports agents’ names.
The words range from the seemingly innocuous “pony” — a euphemism for crack cocaine — and “panties,” to all manner of alcoholic drinks and sexual expressions usually heard on the street.
UK also flags “Muslim” and “Arab” — though after being questioned about it by The Courier-Journal the school said it will no longer do so.
DeWayne Peevy, executive associate athletics director at UK, said the university wasn’t aware those terms were being flagged and said the school was taking steps to remove them. He said that they had been included by Centrix Social, the company that sold its monitoring software to the university.
In nearly 1,500 pages of posts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from UK, unidentified student athletes were flagged for a wide range of posts:
Both UK and U of L refused to give any information on instances where students were disciplined for flagged posts, saying that would violate student privacy.
One student posted on March 26: “I have some OxyContin. It will make you feel good. #drugs,” records show. Another posted: “I thought I found the girl of my dreams at the strip club.” Another recalled a night of drinking: “I don’t remember last night, but my credit card statement says I had a kick-ass time.”
One student was flagged for writing, “God is the only one who can heal me, help me & fight for me” … [read more here]