Athletes Privacy on Digital Media

It has become increasingly difficult for athletes in the spotlight around the time of high profile events such as the Olympic Games to keep any aspect of their life private. Because some sponsors may require these individuals to promote their training and activities before the Games, they are thrust into the media spotlight on a daily basis and any slip up on digital media platforms could be catastrophic for their career.

Many athletes now use Facebook as their main social media site (Vella, 2011) and it is increasingly important for them to use their privacy settings online wisely. Many athletes have now got their own personal Facebook page and also a page that the public can “Like” which the public can follow in order to see live updates and information from the athletes themselves. One reason as to why privacy online is increasingly important for high performance athletes is that potential sponsors can view and gain access to a lot of information online – “someone can gain a lot of knowledge about you just from your Facebook page.” (Vella, 2011)

Due to the nature of twitter and instant sharing on Facebook platforms, it is easy to gain an insight into every aspect of the persons day-to-day life. For example, if a high profile athlete was to share an unprofessional picture accidentally on their Facebook or twitter feed, there would be serious repercussions as the images/content would become instantly viral throughout these digital media platforms. “…potential privacy threats that they might face, including embarrassment, stalking, re–identification, and identity theft” (Boyd, Hargittai. 2010). These types of privacy threats are less common in high profile athletes, however embarrassment and stalking is still prolific as ever.

Here is a picture which was blasted over social media of Devin Thomas sleeping during an NFL team meeting, which had a big back lash from fans on Twitter following this post showing Devin to be unprofessional in his approach to the big game. (Quinton, 2014)



Quinton, S. (2014) Top 10 Dumbest and Most Regrettable Athlete Tweets Ever. (Online) Available at: (Accessed: 29 April 2015)

Vella, Kristen. (2011) Athletes on Facebook. Sport Management Undergraduate. Paper 18.

Boyd, d. and Hargittai, e. (2010), Facebook privacy settings: who cares? First Monday, 15(8)

Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010). Aliases, creeping and wall cleaning – understanding privacy in the age of Facebook. First Monday, 15(1).

Jernigan, K (2014) Social Media’s Role In Sports Marketing (Online) Available at: (Accessed, 27 Apirl 2015)

Honigman, B. (2012) 100 Fascinating Social Media Statistics and Figures From 2012 (Online) Available at: (Accessed, 28 April 2015)


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