Guidance For Athletes On Social Media Use And Reviewing Historic Posts
In May, England and Sussex County cricketer Ollie Robinson became the latest professional sportsperson to find themselves at the centre of a media storm over previous Twitter posts, highlighting again the scrutiny that historic social media will attract when entering the public eye.
The tweets themselves (which are not repeated here), were posted eight years ago when Ollie Robinson was a teenager but are certainly odious by any standard or in any era. Comprising a series of sexist and xenophobic comments – including the use of highly offensive, racist terms – Robinson has acknowledged that his tweets were “inexcusable” and has spoken of his regret and shame at having made such remarks, apologising “unreservedly” for the offence they caused. The publication of his tweets in the press also overshadowed a planned ‘moment of unity’ between the national side and Test series opponents New Zealand, with the England side wearing t-shirts bearing anti-discrimination slogans on the morning that the story broke.
For Robinson, the impact of these comments being unearthed has been immediate, and significant. Having only just broken into the national side for the First Test against New Zealand, he was suspended from all international cricket and faced disciplinary action by the England and Wales Cricket Board, which has since ruled on 2 July that Robinson should be suspended from playing cricket for eight matches (five of which will be suspended for two years). This is not to mention the public condemnation that Robinson has attracted, and despite the Culture Secretary commenting in Robinson’s defence, tweeting that the ECB “gone over the top by suspending him and should think again”, there can be little surprise generally that the governing body had felt compelled to act as it did.
Reputationally, it is also a long journey back for Robinson. Without detracting from the seriousness of his – or indeed any – comments of this nature, this article examines some practical steps that athletes can (and should) take to assess their social media conduct and their historic posts to protect their careers. Specifically, it looks at:
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- Tags: Communications Act 2003 | Court of Arbitration for Sport | Cricket | Criminal Law | Defamation | Defamation Act 2013 | England | Football | Libel | Malicious Communications Act 1988 | Social Media
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Dominic is a Senior Associate at Carter Ruck. His principal focus is on Media Litigation. He has acted in many high profile defamation and privacy cases, securing prominent apologies, damages and remedial action from publishers including The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, Sunday Express and the French daily newspaper Libération as well as online publishers.
Dominic worked on the ground-breaking cases NT1 v Google LLC and NT2 v Google LLC which established the so-called ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ in England and Wales. The High Court ordered that search results referring to a businessman’s spent conviction should be removed from Google.