St Kilda & The Privacy Act

The St Kilda Football nude photo scandal was destined to happen. I’m just surprised it took as long as it did, afterall, social media has been around for nearly five years.

So far however, I can’t see there is anything illegal in the player’s behaviour, which therefore begs the question: Why the national news coverage?

Probably because they’re professional footballers and by default in Australian society, are also considered role models and sadly, targets for fame-chasers.

Now how I understand it – and I’m happy to be corrected if wrong – is my favourite friend CONTEXT has reared his media frenzy inducing head again – remember @ItsStephRice ‘faggot tweet’ earlier in the year…? and a couple of photos taken by men behaving like boys – yes apparently nude is funny – taken out of their original context and dressed up with a different backstory, presented to the football-loving moral crusading majority as ‘genuine’ by an arguably computer, legal and media savvy individual(s), resulted in national news.

What is disconcerting about this whole situation is the power of a 17 year old girl over the law. The more I see and hear of her, the more often I think ‘extortion’ and ‘defamation’.

Now if I were these players I’d be buddying up with my lawyers to ascertain the legal loopholes available from an individuals point of view to protect my individual, professional leisure brand. Afterall, how is this incident going to affect the player earning capacity and professional sponsorship relations? Not to mention the default effect of negative media on the St Kilda Club business and that of it’s associated sponsors and we haven’t even discussed how this incident will affect the business and perception of the AFL itself.

While this incident has highlighted a number of serious operational issues, none are more disturbing than the realisation of the ineffectivity of the law around professional athletes and social media.
And while, it does give the naysayers of social media a fairly convincing case study to back up their ‘social media could cost you your career’arguement, it is a good reminder for everyone on Twitter and Facebook to STOP! and ask yourself: Why am I on Twitter, why do I have a facebook page?

As a professional athlete the answer should be something along the lines of: to positively grow a dedicated community around my professional lifestyle / leisure brand.

So what is the St Kilda nude photo scandal?
Simple. It’s a new media-enabled mugging of professional footballer reputations. It’s also an invaluable social media ‘nettiquette‘ lesson. And for those astute public facing personalities a perfect new media training 101 case study.

So what are the key take-outs?

Having now identified what can happen when fandom turns ugly, consider a few basic tactics to help keep you at the top of your game both in and out of season – starting with the obvious:Control your own behaviour. Set parameters of acceptable behaviour. If you don’t want to be seen naked outside the privacy of your own home, don’t let people – friends or otherwise – take photos of you naked. It’s pretty simple really.

Oh and if you are too shy to say something when someone points a camera at you, then don’t take your clothes off in public. And if you can’t resist the temptation to ‘get nude’ hire an on-call PR and follow their advice, afterall, as Keen says, ‘The internet is a reflection of ourselves’.

 

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