Guardian Secret Footballer Twitter account reveals FA social media policy (via Joey Barton)

PushON | February 1st 2012

The Guardian Secret Footballer Twitter account, the accompaniment to the mystery man’s column, has become one of the most interesting accounts on Twitter over the last year or so. The account, in which an unknown footballer tweets behind-the-scenes information, offers a window into a world that hasn’t before been seen by the typical fan.

Today proved no different, as the Guardian Secret Footballer tweeted photos of a letter sent by the Football Association in regards to its social media policy. Yes, just like your own workplace has rules in place to ensure the company is not brought into disrepute, so does the FA.

To take a leaf from the Letters of Note Twitter account, here’s a transcription:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Social Networking websites

Further to my letter dated 20th January 2011, I am writing in relation to the use of social networking websites by Participants.

The FA has seen an increase in the number of complaints and referrals it has received in relation to postings on sites such as Twitter. You will appreciate that this is of concern to The FA and we would ask that you remind all Participants at your club, with particular reference to all players, of the following key points.

– All comments on social networking sites may be considered public comment by The FA

– Any comments which are improper, bring the game into disrepute or are threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting may lead to disciplinary action

– Comments about match officials which imply bias, attack the officials’ integrity or are overtly personal in nature are considered improper

– Comments which include a reference to a person’s ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation or disability may be considered aggravated and attract a high disciplinary sanction

– Re-Tweeting another person’s post may lead to disciplinary action if the original comment was improper

– Deleting or apologising publicly for an improper posting, whilst advisable, does not prevent disciplinary action being taken

– An individual is strictly responsible for any posting on his/her account. Participants should take every care to ensure that others do not access their account, as the fact that a posting or comment may have been made by a third party will not prevent disciplinary action being taken against the account holder

Participants are required to act in the best interest of the game at all times and should be aware that theirs postings on social networking sites are likely to be subject to public and media scrutiny.

Whilst we are conscious that the use of social networking sites can be positive we must advise that Participants exercise caution with the content of any postings.

If you have any queries in relation to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours faithfully,

Jenni Kennedy

Head of Off-Field Football Regulation

Those who follow football players on Twitter will no doubt be aware of the Joey Barton Twitter account, which has landed the temperamental star plenty of criticism in the past. The FA’s letter comes in the wake of Barton’s recent revelation he receives regular warnings to curb his Twitter behaviour, particularly when it comes to predicting match results.

He said: “According to the FA, I am not allowed to give my opinion of possible results in case that is seen as insider information. These people are so out of touch with reality it’s untrue.”