The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Social Media

Technology has changed the face of the world in many different ways and social media is no different. The ability to talk to people across the globe at any one time has made a remarkable difference to the way we all socialise with each other. Whether talking to friends we usually see, internet pen pals, or even people we have met on the world wide web, it has become one of the most common parts to the billions of people worldwide. 

 

Facebook and Twitter are the biggest sites in the social networking world. With millions of users using both sites everyday, it is possible to see everybody’s whereabouts and their current statuses. Footballers have started using the sites as a possible way of communicating with their friends, family, team-mates and their fans. In June, Facebook announced that they have reached an all-time high with their users figure which current stands at 687 million. Twitter has an estimated 500 million users worldwide where 10 million of those are from the UK. As always there are pros and cons for footballers to have official sites on social media networks where they will be concentrated on in this article.

 

The Good

Starting with the positives; in the technological age that we are currently in, it is very quickly to receive messages and information in a matter of time. There are many footballers who use both Facebook and Twitter however it looks like that Tweeting seems to be the most popular out of the two. As well as footballers, there are millions of athletes who take to Twitter to update on their life either on a personal level or voicing their opinions on specific topics. This is the first time that fans across the globe can interact with the players from their local teams or abroad. The fans can enjoy a sense of belonging to their favourite players and clubs by joining in the banter or having a normal conversation with them. Personally, I think it’s great that fans can engage with the players where they can get to know them better about their lives and their opinions.

 

I have researched on the amount of Premier League footballers that use Twitter and from the pie chart on the right-hand side, the results are fairly equal. The statistics include players from the first-team, reserves and youth academy. The club with the most players on Twitter are Tottenham Hotspur with 21 followed by newly-promoted Southampton with 19. 

Twitter is a very powerful tool for journalists of all fields too as they can supply the latest news to their consumers in a matter of seconds with the news been given to them. With their expertise and opinion, fans of all ages can ask various questions to them from transfer news to injury updates. With the recent racism case involving John Terry and Anton Ferdinand, various journalists updated their followers of what was going on inside the courtroom so that everybody could get a better insight into the case. From opinions to quotes, the media on Twitter and Facebook will always keep you updated. 

 

The Bad

The negatives then; social media can be used to vent out opinions which can be a positive however it can lead to unfortunate consequences. A few Premier League managers have said that they are against social networking including the likes of Martin O’Neill and Sam Allardyce. The West Ham manager said: “It is a great form of communication but our players have to be sensible enough to not get something to anything up onto ward because they will be pulled up for it and they will be fined.” This has been the case in the past couple of years with players forcing out to pay for their online rants. A good example to use is when then Liverpool midfielder Ryan Babel (@RyanBabel) uploaded a modified picture of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt after Liverpool’s defeat to their greatest rivals in the FA Cup third round last year. Calling the decision as “a joke“, Babel was fined £10,000 by the FA for his actions.

 

This was just the start of the charging brigade from the FA as it continued with West Ham striker Carlton Cole. The 28-year-old was charged of improper conduct and fined £20,000 in April 2011 after comments during England’s friendly with Ghana at Wembley. Cole (@CarltonCole1) tweeted: “Immigration has surrounded the Wembley premises! I knew it was a trap! Hahahaha. The only way to get out safely is to wear an England jersey and paint your face w/ the St. George’s flag!” After the charges were brought against him, Cole asked the FA to donate his fine to a Ghanian children’s charity and later apologised for his tweets.

 

Now, you can’t mention Twitter without the name of Joey Barton springing up. The QPR midfielder has been involved in numerous incidents online which has landed him in hot water in the past and present. He has been on the case of various celebrities including the likes of Gary Lineker, Michael Owen and Emmanuel Frimpong. On 13 May 2012, QPR travelled to champions-elect Manchester City knowing that they had to get a result to survive the daunting fate of dropping back down into the Championship. It was an eventful game to say the least as City won 3-2 in dramatic fashion to clinch the title from arch rivals United. Barton was in the headlines for elbowing Carlos Tevez and kicking into the back of Sergio Aguero’s leg after he was sent off by referee Mike Dean. He took to Twitter after the game by saying: “Still not my proudest moment but who gives a f***, we are safe……….and that is all that matters“. He also used the site to taunt Sergio Aguero about the incident in a comedic way. Barton recieved a 12-match-ban and was stripped of the QPR captaincy 10 days after the match at the Etihad Stadium.

The Ugly

The sub-title states it all. The millions of social media users have seen the ugly side to it whether they have been victims of abuse or seen a small minority abusing about a particular incident. Earlier this year, there was an FA Cup tie taking place between Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton at White Hart Lane. All seemed well until the sudden collapse of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba on the pitch. The images that everybody saw was truly terriying including the fans at the ground where a sudden silence of shock spread around all four stands. It was revealled that Muamba had a cardiac arrest and spent over a month at the London Chest Hospital. Unfortuantely, a horrific tweet was sent to the public domain by student Liam Stacey from Pontypridd who tweeted: “LOL. F*** Muamba he’s dead!!! #Haha” 

 

The tweet was soon reported to police and Stacey was arrested the next day. Despite his apologies, he was given a 56-day prison term for a racially aggravated public order offence. Stacey claimed that it was “just drunken stupidity” however that is not an excuse what so ever in my view. How can anyone make disgusting comments on a man whose life was severly in danger was a question that everybody was asking. Sadly, this wasn’t the first case of racism being used on Twitter.

 

Former professional Stan Collymore is a big fan of Twitter who now works as broadcaster for the radio station talkSPORT. The 41-year-old has been receiving huge numbers of racist tweets throughout the past year or so and claims that he gets at least five every day. Just a few days after Fabrice Muamba’s collapse, Collymore was the subject of racist tweeting by law student Joshua Cryer. He was arrested after Collymore contacted police about his vile comments towards the former Liverpool striker. Cryer sent two messages to @StanCollymore saying: “Has anyone called you Stan ****ymore…..Has anyone ever referred to you as a semi-pro as in a semi-pro ****” Cryer initally stated that his account was hacked into however he admitted sending the messages in court. Astonishingly, Cryer was spared jail. Instead, he recieved a two-year community order and was told to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work. 

 

As recently as last weekend, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand caused a stir on Twitter where he referred Chelsea’s Ashley Cole as a “choc-ice”. This came after the racism trial of last week where John Terry was accused of racially abusing Rio’s younger brother Anton during a Premier League match last October. Terry was found not guilty after insufficient evidence against the Chelsea captain. Ashley Cole was one of the witnesses who gave evidence at the trial and it has been reported that the FA will step in with the threat of punishment. Rio defended his tweet by adding: “What I said yesterday is not a racist term. Its a type of slang/term used by many for someone who is being fake. So there.” After searching the term, I found out that it is defined as: “black on the outside, white on the inside” In my opinion, it’s still not professional from Ferdinand and nobody will be surprised if the FA hit him with a fine for his actions.

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