A year and a half ago I was negotiating with the photo sharing website, Yfrog, to have a photograph of a man’s private parts removed from a young sportsmen’s Twitter page – his friends had played a prank on him, costing him a club fine and a ban. That was the moment that I realised that, as a lawyer, social media was going to dominate my professional life, particularly in sport.

There are some great opportunities on social media, such as the chance to connect with sponsors, support good causes and the ability to interact with fans – but how do you avoid damaging your reputation online? 

Here are five tips on social media best practice:  

 1.      Beat the fakes

It’s easy enough to say the wrong thing online yourself – but the power can be out of your hands if someone is impersonating you. By getting your account verified, you can help stop confusion and, if reported correctly, Twitter and Facebook will often remove troublesome fakes.

  2.      Know the rules

The ECB’s rules state that “No [player] may conduct himself in a manner … which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket”. It gives them a wide jurisdiction so the message is simple – be careful what you say. This means you could be punished for simply swearing. The ECB and your club will be particularly concerned about language which could be deemed homophobic, racist or in any other way prejudiced – even if it’s meant in jest. 

 3.      Lock your door

Hacking is rife on social media as the hacking of the accounts of footballers, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero, showed. Hacking software can enter every word in the English language in just one minute in an attempt to work out your password. Don’t just use a word and a number as your password, use symbols such as ‘!@£$%^&*’ or replace letters with numbers or symbols to make your password safer from hackers. If you are hacked, respond immediately using Twitter or Facebook’s helpful guides. 

 4.      Don’t feed the trolls

Cricketers are used to the drunks shouting abuse when they’re in the outfield. Social media provides a platform for any anonymous person to pick a fight with you online. You should ignore it. ECB rules, your club and sponsor obligations and your reputation in general dictates that you have far more to lose than an average person by getting into a Twitter spat. Ignore and block anyone who tries to engage in an online argument. 

 5.      Manage your public profile

Facebook enables you to customise your privacy setting and close off information to a group of friends. Upgrade all security and privacy settings on Facebook and, if in doubt, don’t post information or a photograph online. Twitter is almost always public. Make your messaging positive and understand that your Twitter comments represent the public presentation of who you are. Treat Twitter like a television interview – it’s that serious.

For more tips on social media best practise, please click below pdf.


Matt Himsworth is Principal and Founder of Himsworths Sports Legal Consultancy.

If you would like to find out more, please contact Matt on 07799 660355 or email matt@himsworthslegal.com – alternatively, you can visit the website at www.himsworthslegal.com