<
>

UNC tweeps feel pain of censorship

College basketball players have taken to Twitter at roughly the same speed as everyone else their age, which is to say: quickly. Of course, the difference between your average 18- to 22-year-old and a college basketball player for, say, North Carolina is that no one really cares all that much what your average 18- to 22-year-old is tweeting at any given time. ("Just got done with classes. Bor-ing! Eating lunch now. Going out later. Might even ice my bro! Have you guys heard the new live Widespread?" Et al.)

People do care what basketball players are writing on their Twitter feeds though. It seems like a personalized medium, but at this point a college hoopster's Twitter musings are just as newsworthy as his public comments. Which is why Roy Williams is doing what so many other college coaches -- not to mention businesses and media outlets -- have already done: He gave his players a talk about what is and isn't acceptable to post on Twitter.

Naturally, they all immediately tweeted about it. Junior Larry Drew II and sophomores Dexter Strickland and John Henson all wrote similar messages complaining about the censorship. Strickland's pretty much sum it up:

well,coached 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 told me I gotta watch wat I say..so I'm sry if any of my tweets offended anybody that follows me..

yeah these people be emailin coach n stuff smh...."self expression is a birthright and something you did PRIOR to hoopin...

There are a couple likely reasons for the talking-to. One is the team's playful ridicule of the Wear twins, who transferred from UNC to UCLA this spring. Drew and company started the Twitter hashtag "#theyleftbecause" and filled it up with lighthearted messages like "They found out they would have to live with Tyler Zeller ... again." It was funny, and definitely not a big deal, but probably not the wisest of ideas. There were also a couple of tweets by Strickland about his 5-year-old brother discovering the finer points of his male anatomy. Neither were particularly obscene or mean-spirited, but they unquestionably fall under the category of "Someone might get offended by this, so I better leave it off the Internet." Hey, we've all been there.

Anyway, there are a few lessons to be learned here. One: Think before you tweet. Two: Think again. Three: If it seems questionable, even if it's not really a big deal, maybe just delete it.

Four: Your coach telling you to watch what you say on the Internet doesn't really qualify as a violation of your right to free speech, so maybe don't imply as much. There are beaten Russian journalists who'd probably prefer we not throw around that word so lightly.

And five: In Internet parlance, the acronym "smh" means "shaking my head." I had no idea. See? We all have much to learn about the Internet.