Sunday, April 12, 2009


A big fumble by the NFL

With the popularity of social media continuing to rise, it’s common for incidents to arise from online accounts. A few months ago an employee of the Philadelphia Eagles got fired after he posted a comment on Facebook about an Eagles player being trade. This week, news came about via Mashable’s Web site about the NFL creating fake Facebook profiles in an attempt to get dirt on potential prospects. At first I was taken back and immediately criticized the NFL. But looking back on it, I don’t have an issue with the premise behind the tactic; but I do see the actual tactic being unethical.

It’s common sense that employers check the online profiles of potential candidates when interviewing. There’s the common adage “if you don’t want your mother to see it, then it probably shouldn’t be online.” I have no problem with this and actually think it’s a great thing to do. You can learn a lot from people by their Facebook profile or blog. It’s an easy and cheap way for HR personnel to quickly weed out those who they feel wouldn’t be a good match for their organization.

So what’s the difference between Company A doing it and the NFL? The NFL is a business and with their push to improve their image, monitoring online accounts makes sense. However, creating a fake profile simply to gain access to view a profile reminds me of a snaky con-man. It brings up the image of that used-car salesman that everyone tries to avoid - it’s slimy.

One of the issues with the emergence of Web 2.0 is knowing and understanding the motive behind the participant. Some companies and employees are great about coming out and announcing their affiliation. Others, not so much. This has been a criticism of PR professionals for years and PR 101 teaches the importance of identifying yourself and your intentions. Actions like this - the NFL creating fake profiles - go completely against what an organization should be doing to sharpen its image.

A few keys to remember when integrating Web 2.0
* Image from

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