By Rosie Searle, BBC News, Sport at the Euros
Superstar English footballers such as Wayne Rooney, John Terry and James Milner have no doubt at all that anyone can find a private post or a screen shot of their personal information on their social media accounts – and every day they go about the business of keeping their colleagues up to date with their lives. In hindsight, perhaps the footballers have a bit of an unfair advantage over their fans. Athletes at the top of their game are often the only ones on social media, meaning that they take the most time and care with the snaps they post on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. But there is no reason that fans have no right to know what their favourite players are posting. And last week it was revealed that Manchester United’s Rooney’s Twitter and Facebook accounts are not only open to public scrutiny, but were also being monitored by his agent. Rooney said it is down to his agent to monitor his accounts
As Eamonn Holmes, presenter of the ITV daytime show This Morning, commented during an interview with Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford: “You must be breathing down his neck.” Those comments came after it was reported that Rooney’s Facebook account was scanned for links to websites selling fake tickets. Rooney said it was down to his agent to monitor his accounts but now an investigation is under way. Rooney has apologised after images of him playing at Liverpool last week were posted on a web forum, which offended Everton fans. PR The issue is in fact becoming a big topic among footballers, as they try to balance their duty to protect their fans and their football image. Theo Walcott tweeted a picture of him shopping at the Trafford Centre in Manchester Some players are embracing the digital age. Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson told the BBC that he’s not embarrassed by sharing photos of himself playing football with his friends or posting video clips on Facebook. But if your Twitter feed comes up with a link to a blog and an image of your drinking too much alcohol at a nightclub, you do not want a player’s agent to see that. And many players have taken to Twitter to let people know that, however unwittingly, they are promoting illegal or excessive drinking in their state of mind. Many of them tell fans to be mindful of the manner in which they share their lives on social media. It is a clear attempt to manage the public image of the player. A Twitter or Facebook post you write on the morning of a game is not going to appeal to anyone and if it’s an image of you binge drinking it’s really going to turn people against you.
Social Media specialist At least one player has found that a bit of self-censorship on Twitter can help. A fan complained about Southampton striker Rickie Lambert ‘s participation in an advert for a multi-pack of peanut butter, which is sold alongside a note which reads “This jar is perfect for itchy skin. If you want to smear on some salad dressings, then I think you’ve done it right.” When asked if he had seen this reference before, Lambert was livid and said he did not know what the fuss was about, but he quickly deleted it. His fans are left in no doubt that he is not endorsing the advert. A similar complaint led to Man City defender Micah Richards deleting the last page of a website which advised fans on taking a mobile phone photo of supporters, apparently to be stored in a phone book for future use. Social media is still very new for footballers. Many of them are still learning what to post and what not to. If you want to know how to maintain your social media presence properly – be sure to follow our experts’ advice in our online expert’s guide. For inspiration, there is an explanation of the different social media platforms and their pros and cons here.
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