Social media: Sports DMs gone wrong

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
12:00
PM ET
A direct approach is generally the best form of communication. On Twitter, however, some figures within the sports world are learning the direct (message) approach might not be the wisest.

The Kansas City Chiefs were caught up in a social media controversy this week after someone with access to the account fired off a direct message attacking a fan who posted a tweet criticizing the team.

Travis Wright was told to “get his facts straight” and “get a clue” in a message from @kcchiefs after venting his frustration over the team’s financial decisions.

Of course, while a direct message might initially be visible only to the person a Twitter user sends it to, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way.

In the Chiefs’ case, their social-media-savvy follower, shared an image of the direct message on both his account -- he has 127,000 followers -- and on social news site Reddit. What began as a rather ordinary Twitter vent was suddenly a viral story.

Kansas City isn’t alone when it comes to direct message missteps. Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire was fined $50,000 by the NBA in June after directing a gay slur at a fan in a direct message. The fan posted a screen grab of the conversation.

During Dwight Howard’s acrimonious split with the Orlando Magic, a Twitter user released a string of direct messages reportedly sent from the now-Lakers center’s account in which his former team’s portrayal of him was criticized.

Having direct messages made public by the recipients isn’t the only way sending a DM can go wrong.

Golfer Luke Donald issued an apology earlier this month after he posted a tweet calling a golf course architect an expletive. The post and the one preceding it, in which Donald had shared his own phone number, were intended to be direct messages. Instead, they went out to Donald’s 300,000 followers.

Marcus Jordan can relate. In July, while still a member of the University of Central Florida basketball team, Jordan -- who is also the son of Michael Jordan -- replied to an adult film star on Twitter in what certainly seemed to be another case of a private message unintentionally going public.

Back to the Chiefs. The team tweeted a vague apology after the direct message fallout. Wright couldn’t see it, as the team had blocked him.

NHL social media protest

Some fans are organizing on social media to voice their displeasure with the NHL’s ongoing labor dispute. Using #UnfollowNHLSept15 (Sept. 15 is the league’s collective bargaining agreement deadline), the fans are encouraging others to make their voices heard via social media by unfollowing teams and players on all social media sites as well as boycotting them on the Web.

Elsewhere in the social media sphere

Madden released an animated infographic looking at some of the interesting data coming out of the social gaming arena in Week 1, including the most used teams in online head-to-head and total online games played since “Madden NFL 13” launched.

IBM took a look at social media surrounding the U.S. Open.

Northwestern launched a site that will serve as a hub for all of the football team’s social media activity.

Got a story we should feature? Have a site we should check out? Who's on your must-follow list? Tweet me at @BurnsOrtiz. If your idea gets mentioned in this column, so will you. Follow Playbook on Twitter at @ESPNPlaybook.
Maria Burns Ortiz covers social media for ESPN Playbook. She began writing for ESPN.com in 2006, covering college soccer for ESPNSoccernet.

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