SEC Bans Twitter and Facebook at Games

Fans are now competitors

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    NEWSLETTERS

    SEC bans social media at games

    Tweet from the stands, get kicked out. Or worse.

    That's basically the crazy strict media policy in effect at several of the southeast's biggest schools, says the St. Petersburg Times. According to the new rules in effect by the SEC, you can't update Twitter, post photos on sites like Facebook or Flickr, or take videos and place them on YouTube while attending a live game.

    The policy's meant to keep eyeballs on the TV networks, says a conference spokesman. ESPN and CBS are paying the SEC $3 billion for the broadcast rights to the conference's games over the next 15 year.

    But as the Times' Michael Kruse notes, the policy puts the SEC in an untenable position. By forbidding social media at games, they're basically acknowledging that the source of their income -- their fans -- also represent a source of competition. Ruh-roh Shaggy.

    Their situation is not unlike the record industry's: they're faced with the loss of exclusivity, and they're resisting. Look how that worked for Geffen et al.

    Like the record companies, the SEC can't possibly change learned social behavior simply by mandating it. They can't even adequately police infractions.

    So. Acknowledging that FaceTweeters and SpaceyBook users are going to twizzle themselves at games (what? yes.), the SEC -- and all collegiate sports authorities -- should find ways to reward users for that behavior.

    Hell, how about asking fans to use specific hash marks for tweets and acknowledge the best ones on a Web Gems-like rundown. Or scroll tweets in a CNN-like ticker. Or highlight dedicated fans' Facebook profiles. For the NCAA, choose 64 Facebookers and have them face-off in analysis, with viewers choosing who wins each matchup. This stuff's probably being done already, right? Right?

    But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Chicagoland fans needn't worry yet. The Big Ten hasn't banned TweetFaces or FeetyBook updates yet.

    "The conference office does not have any restrictions," said a Big Ten spokesperson. "Whether it's Twitter or Facebook or whatever they're using."

    The spokesperson added the conference has "no plans" to restrict the use of those social media tools, but added that individual schools within the conference can make their own decisions about restricting sites.

    Oh really. Well they can have my iPhone when they pry it from my cold, chapped hands.