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Dr. John Price: social media

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Dr. John Price is an expert in social media and sport. Here are his top tips for staying social while posting responsibly.

The stakes are high online

Used properly the likes of Twitter can boost your career and help you connect with the fans, but get it wrong and you could be in trouble with your club, the FA or even the law. Since 2011, the FA has collected an estimated £350,000 in fines from players misusing social media. You can even be banned as Rio Ferdinand discovered recently with a three-match ban. With that in mind, here’s some advice for staying safe online…

1. Think before you tweet

One of the great things about social media sites is you can use them on your phone from anywhere. But that means you’re only ever seconds away from a regrettable update just when your judgement might be at its fuzziest.

2. Don’t take it personally

For my latest book I interviewed internet ‘trolls’  and sports people who have been the victims of online abuse. One thing that came up time and again was that abusers feel empowered when they’re behind a keyboard and many social media users love  to ‘perform’ for the crowd.  It’s often them, not you, with the issue.

3. Don’t feed the trolls

If you engage with people having a go at you they’ll thrive on getting a reaction. But if you think the people sending abusive messages could be committing an offence then report it. On Twitter you’ll find the ‘Report’ option by clicking on the user’s profile, then the cog icon near their ‘Follow’ button. If the abuse is racist, sexist or homophobic download the Kick It Out app to report the incident anonymously.

4. Tweet responsibly

Try to respect the fans even if they don’t show you the same courtesy at times online. Players have been in bother before for all kinds of things, including posting ill-advised photos, and it’s in your standard contract to avoid bringing your club into disrepute. There’s a further round-up here: thepfa.com/thepfa/socialmedia.

5. Beware of the law

Saying something false or even illegal – such as revealing the identity of people protected by law from being identified – is as much an offence on social media as if you printed it in a national newspaper. And be aware that even retweeting or repeating material from a trusted source can leave you open to prosecution.

6. Be social and be interesting!

Don’t be put off. Don’t be dull. It’s okay to express opinions and engage with fans – social media gives you an opportunity to build up a following that could be valuable when you transition out of the game. Remember: you’re a footballer and a brand all rolled into one these days.

Dr John Price’s new book Sport, Racism & Social Media is out now.