Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All atwitter

Who doesn't tweet these days?

Twitter is one of the top social networking sites, an instant way to communicate with family and friends using short 140-character messages.

It scares the bejeebers out of repressive nations such as Iran and China. Even the U.S. military is worried that state secrets could be inadvertently spilled by members of the armed forces.

And now the National Football League is all atwitter about Twitter.

The NFL appears terrified of social media, and of the players and the sports reporters who are embracing it. God forbid if players or reporters or fans spill the beans on a gimmick play, an injury being kept under wraps or a tryout candidate.

Two of my favorite teams, the Miami Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers, are among other franchises that have severely restricted tweeting and texting in an attempt to control the flow of news.

Ethan Skolnick of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote a blog on the issue:

And Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote about how one player got into hot water for tweeting about the quality of team meals:

It seems ridiculous and paranoid to restrict information that is eagerly sought out by fans and readers. Twitter and other forms of social media are here to stay (or until the next great invention), and the NFL would be wise to use social media to its advantage instead of trying to censor the news.

An update since this first posted. More NFL teams have restricted Twitter, and more sports writers are complaining. Here's another viewpoint:

Since my original post, The Washington Post has had a dialogue with its readers on this issue. Here's that link: