The FA (Football Association) has warned players that comments made on any social media site may be considered public comment. They also warned that they could also be sued by third parties over contentious internet postings.

The FA stated: “Comments made on [social network sites] may be considered public comment, any comments which are deemed improper, bring the game into disrepute, or are threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting may lead to disciplinary action.

“Comments which are personal in nature or could be construed as offensive, use foul language or contain direct or indirect threats aimed at other participants are likely to be considered improper.

“Participants are required to act in the best interests of the game at all times and should be aware of this when using social networking websites.

“Furthermore, participants are reminded that postings on social networking sites which they believe to be visible to a limited number of selected people may still end up in the public domain, and consequently care should be exercised with regards to the contents of such postings.

“In addition, we would remind participants that social networking postings could also lead to civil proceedings being brought by affected parties.”

Ryan Babel, the former Liverpool striker became the first professional football player to be fined by the FA for tweeting a doctored image of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt, stating “And they call him one of the best referees? That’s a joke. SMH.”

Most recently, Arsenal and England Midfielder Jack Wilshere escaped punishment after criticising referee Phil Dowd.

Rio Ferdinand, the most prolific sportsman on Twitter tweeted his response stating The FA’s statement on players using twitter will only affect players who don’t know how to use twitter properly…do it right fella’s + chics!

The NFL (National Football League) and NBA (National Basketball Association) in the United States both have social media policies in place with players unable to communicate online at certain times prior to a game.

The FA has since argued that a Twitter policy should come from the Premier League.

This is a very interesting turn of events and the Twitter policy is something that should be considered by any business who takes Twitter into their marketing strategy.

Ralli use Twitter as  a marketing tool and if there are businesses wishing to use Twitter to enhance their presence on the net, we can review and advise on current policies that are in place.

A policy provides guidance and clarity, and helps reduce the risk of mistakes that could damage a brand or lead to claims for defamation.