Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ky. universities flag words like 'pony' and 'gazongas' from athlete's social media

Kentucky's two largest universities will be using software to monitor what student-athletes post on their social media accounts.

According to USA Today, all student-athletes at the University of Kentucky and most at the University of Louisville will surrender their online privacy to coaches under a social media system used by both schools— as well as others around the country— as a condition of playing sports.

Most of the 406 words flagged by U of L are slang expressions that deal with sex, drugs and alcohol.  UK has a similar policy but 370 words it bans are the names of sports agents.  UK also flags the words "Muslim" and "Arab" but the school is taking steps to remove them from the list after being questioned about them.

A sampling of some of the offensive words at UK include "agent," "Benjamins," "porn," "panties" and "robbery."

At U of L the student-athletes can eliminate such naughty words as "beer bong," "BYOB," "Sam Adams" and "gazongas" from their Twitter and Facebook lexicon.

Bazoombas is okay. "Pony" (slang for cocaine) is not.

U of L senior associate athletic director Kenny Klein said athletes involved in all sports— except basketball and football players— are required to use the software UDiligence.  Klein says the decision to use the system was up to the head coach of each sport.  The Courier-Journal reports that  basketball coach Rick Pitino and football coach Charlie Strong did not return calls.

UK athletes have also been flagged for a number of postings.

One UK student posted on March 26: "I have some OxyContin.  It will make you feel good. (hash) drugs." according to records.  The offending word—  "drugs."

Another student was flagged for writing , "God is the only one who can heal me, help me & fight for me."  The word "fight" was the dirty word.

The schools claim they are helping the athletes by monitoring what they say to prevent them from sending an embarrassing Internet posting "you can't get back."

Klein said the practice of monitoring social media is not unfair to athletes.

"It's not what you can say is an invasion of privacy or anything, because you're not looking for things in an private setting, only things in a public setting."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky doesn't agree with then school's actions and is looking into whether or not it violates the student's right to free speech.

Both schools declined to release information about any disciplinary actions against flagged posts, saying it would violate student privacy.

Students were at a loss for words.

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