Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is Henson 1st casualty of UNC's social networking policy?


A day after North Carolina revealed revised policies for social networking in its Student Athlete Handbook, it appears as if one of its most prolific tweeters might be leaving Twitter.

Basketball sophomore John Henson, who has more than 7,100 followers on the site, wrote on his account at about 5 p.m. Tuesday: “bye bye twitter. im off this after pickup today. At least until I leave unc. love yall.”

But after posting more the 2,900 updates, is Henson really done? Or might he be pulling a fast one -- say, tweeting again once he leaves unc['s campus for a burger]?

Henson, a projected starter last season, has had trouble editing himself on the social network before. After UNC was upset by College of Charleston last season, Henson tweeted that the Tar Heels had just made a guy's college career; the post was later erased.

Earlier this summer, he, as well as teammates Dexter Strickland and Larry Drew II, posted variations of the same message on their individual Twitter accounts: "well coach just talked to us about twitter and told us we offend some people n what not so this is a farewell to bein' myself..lata tweeps."

(They continued to tweet, with their posts toned down a tad.)

UNC has updated its 2010-11 Student Athlete Handbook to stipulate that “each team must identify at least one coach or administrator who is responsible for having access to and regularly monitor the content of team members’ social networking sites and postings.” The athletics department also reserves the right to have other staff members monitor athletes’ posts; and if any of an athlete’s online content violates the law or NCAA, University or athletic department policies, sanctions could range from removal of the posting to dismissal from the team.

Last year’s Student Athlete Handbook reminded players that what they post on social networks is public information; that they are a representative of the University and always in the public eye; that information is accessible after they remove it; that they should exercise caution about posting their whereabouts or plans; and that future employers might use their sites as a background check.

The updated handbook expands on those, stating that the athletic department “will not tolerate disrespectful comments and behavior online.” That includes derogatory language; comments that constitute a credible emotional or physical threat; and photos that depict unlawful abuse, hazing, harassment, discrimination, drug possession or use, and any other illegal conduct.

-- Robbi Pickeral

(Photo: UNC's John Henson watches as the Tar Heels fall behind by 20 points to Virginia in the second half on Sunday January 31, 2009 in the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. ROBERT WILLETT robert.willett@newsobserver.com)

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