Although I despise those who twitter as a general matter (and will thus likely embrace the odd medium any day now), it has moments where it is useful. Short bursts of information updates for natural disasters, airport shut downs, and possible revolutionary mayhem come to mind. Today a less major (depending on how you look at it) issue, gmail going down, has shown that Twitter is again useful but barely. As TechCrunch notes, Twitter may have come close to crashing but held up well as thousands upon thousands of folks expressed frustration and ore about the great Google in the sky going down. And yes some Google folks used the medium to communicate bland statements about how Google was addressing the problem (probably asking some extraordinarily smart people about some obscure math issue and then finding that such knowledge may not help them figure out email service).
Now the NFL has come along and has regulated the use of Twitter as CNET describes:
[The NFL has] modified its social-media policy to limit Twitter and social-networking use by players, coaches, league officials, and even the media. The NFL said that it will let players, coaches, and other team personnel engage in social networking during the season. However, they will be prohibited from using Twitter and from updating profiles on Facebook and other social-networking sites during games. In addition, they will not be allowed to tweet or update social-networking profiles 90 minutes before a game and until post-game interviews are completed. The rules even extend to people “representing” a player or coach on their personal accounts. The NFL didn’t just stop with the league itself, though. The organization also said that media attending games will be prohibited from providing game updates through social networks.
I love the NFL’s reason and think that it is trying to assert that even fans ought not be able to share play-by-play:
“Longstanding policies prohibiting play-by-play descriptions of NFL games in progress apply fully to Twitter and other social media platforms,” the National Football League said in its statement. “Internet sites may not post detailed information that approximates play-by-play during a game. “While a game is in progress, any forms of accounts of the game must be sufficiently time-delayed and limited in amount (e.g., score updates with detail given only in quarterly game updates) so that the accredited organization’s game coverage cannot be used as a substitute for, or otherwise approximate, authorized play-by-play accounts.”
This position seems to suggest that one, players, etc. twittering has something to do with approximating play-by-play when most likely the NFL wants to regulate the way in which all those connected with a team communicate and represent themselves around a game. One might agree that being in the NFL requires following its odd ethics. How those goals havve anything to do with play-by-play recounting is beyond me. If fans start to share exuberant moments in almost real time, as I did via text in the glorious game to of the NBA finals this past season, but instead of using text, fans used Twitter, the NFL might assert that such sharing is not allowed. At least the quoted logic above seems to point to such nonsense. As CNET notes enforcement even at the team level will be quite difficult as the nFL won’t know who posted what. Of course the NFL could require some sort of disclosure of Twitter and other social networking aliases which raises a host of standard objections that readers here can easily figure out while the NFL may not. All of which makes me wonder, should the twits who came up with these positions love Twitter?