Despite the seemingly unregulated nature of social media, the law still applies online. Postings online (and similarly in email or text messages) are subject to the law in areas like defamation, racial discrimination, intimidation, breach of copyright and trademark infringement.
If someone at your club made inflammatory comments over the phone or sent a derogatory email, which came to the club's attention and contravened your code of conduct or behavioural guidelines, you would need to look at it and address it. The same applies for Facebook and the range of other social networking channels.
All clubs and associations should have a Social Media Policy that promotes guidelines for responsible social media use and outlines how offensive or discriminatory comments will be dealt with and disciplined if appropriate. The real effect of a social media policy is to let all your members know their rights and responsibilities in any social media forum, including if they make comments or posts that contradict your club or association's code of behaviour or conduct.
In collaboration with the Tasmanian Government through Communities, Sport and Recreation, Play by the Rules has a Social Media Policy template you can use as a starting point in developing your own Social Media Policy. You can download the Social Media Policy template below:
Play by the Rules has produced a range of articles to assist individuals and clubs to be aware of social media tools and how they can be used by sport; along with identifying the dangers and opportunities of communicating online. These include:
Following are some existing policies and templates to assist you to develop your own social media policy/guidelines for your members: