As part of the new collective bargaining agreement between owners and major league players, Major League Baseball (MLB) has introduced a new social media policy for all 40-man roster players.
In an introductory memorandum to affected players, MLB acknowledges the importance of social media and encourages player use for communicating with fans. It states, “We encourage you to connect with fans through Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms….[W]e hope that your efforts on social media will bring fans closer to the game and have them engaged with baseball, your club and you in a meaningful way.” In particular, the policy encourages players to use social media to
- Interact with fans
- Share non-confidential information about player activities
- Highlight charitable and promotional activity that players are participating in personally or on behalf of their teams
MLB also reminds and cautions players, however, that while a tweet or a Facebook post might be made from their private phones, it is a public statement to a mass audience, not a private text to a friend. MLB further warns players to refrain from the the “heat of the moment” communications, adding that a message should be one they would be comfortable personally communicating in a press conference.
The policy, moreover, contains ten (10) express prohibitions on players’ use of social media.:
1) Players are prohibited from displaying or transmitting content that can be reasonably construed as official team or league statements without permission.
2) Players are prohibited from using an MLB entity’s logo, mark, or written, photographic, video or audio property without permission.
3) Players cannot link to any MLB entity website without permission.
4) Players cannot communicate any content that contains confidential or proprietary information of any MLB entity or its employees or agents.
5) Players cannot communicate any content that could be reasonably construed as condoning the use of any substance prohibited by major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
6) Players cannot communicate any content that questions the impartiality of or otherwise denigrates a Major League Umpire.
7) Players cannot display or transmit content that is derogatory or insensitive to individuals based on race, color, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, or religion, including, but not limited to, slurs, jokes, stereotypes or other inappropriate remarks.
8) Players cannot display or transmit content that constitutes harassment of an individual or group of individuals, or threatens or advocates the use of violence against an individual or group of individuals.
9) Players cannot display or transmit any content that contains obscene or sexually explicit language, images or acts.
10) Players cannot display or transmit any content that violates applicable local, state or federal law or regulations.
If a player violates the policy, he may be subject to discipline for just cause either by his team or the Commissioner pursuant to Article XII of the collective bargaining agreement