Minium: Twitter Gave Us No Choice But to Restart Our Men’s and Women’s Basketball Accounts – Old Dominion University – Old Dominion University - Techy Hunters

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Thursday, July 1, 2021

Minium: Twitter Gave Us No Choice But to Restart Our Men’s and Women’s Basketball Accounts – Old Dominion University – Old Dominion University

By Harry Minium

The University of Alabama football program has a mega presence on Twitter, the social media platform most often followed by football and basketball players and coaches. No college football program can equal the one million people who follow the Crimson Tide.

Yet even Twitter giants like Alabama make mistakes. Four times in 2018, Alabama’s official football Twitter account ran afoul of federal rules, reportedly by using copyrighted music on videos. Each time, Twitter shut down Alabama’s account.

Losing your Twitter feed can be disastrous for an athletic program. Twitter is where so much recruiting and fan promotion is done, particularly in football and men’s and women’s basketball.

Fortunately, in 2018, the system worked. When the problems were corrected, the Tide’s Twitter account was back online, sometime within just hours.

Just as it should have been.

Flash forward three years and Twitter isn’t showing the same consideration to half a dozen mid-major schools who inadvertently broke essentially the same rules and have been shut down, some for nearly half a year.

Among them is Old Dominion University. Our men’s basketball account was shut down a few months ago and more recently, Twitter also shut down our women’s basketball account.

What did we do wrong? While trying to promote our basketball programs to fans, recruits and the media, we used songs that were copyrighted on a handful of tweets about five years ago.

They were inadvertent mistakes and we attempted to correct them as soon as notified.

Unfortunately, our accounts were shut down before we could take down the offending tweets.

We’ve gone back and looked at all our social media accounts to ensure we are adhering to the law. We are also hiring a full-time social media person this summer.

We’re doing our very best, and yet Twitter has largely ignored our pleas to reinstate our accounts.

In consultation with men’s basketball coach Jeff Jones and women’s basketball coach DeLisha Milton-Jones, we made the difficult decision to start over on Twitter.

We began new Twitter accounts for men’s basketball  @ODU_MBB and women’s basketball @ODU_WBB
nearly two weeks ago.

As of Thursday morning, men’s basketball had 264 followers and women’s basketball 47. A few months ago our two sites had more than 15,000 followers combined.

The Twitter shutdowns have been costly to our programs. Our direct communication pipeline to thousands of fans has been disrupted and it will take a long time to reconnect with all of them.

We’ve reached out to Twitter and to the Universal Music Company, which has rights to the copyrighted music, more than half a dozen times each. And for the most part, we haven’t heard much back.

The few emails returned by Twitter and the Universal Music Group have given us contradictory information. Twitter says we need to get permission from the Universal Music Group to take down the Tweets. The Universal Music Group said they have nothing to do with suspending accounts or deleting Tweets; that’s up to Twitter, they have said.

Grant Gardner, who handles sports information duties for our men’s basketball program, reached out to other universities who are having the same issue. The University of New Orleans had its men’s twitter account shut down in January and women’s basketball in March. So far, no luck for the Privateers in trying to get their Twitter accounts back.

The same is true for various accounts at Western Kentucky, Indiana State, the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and the University of Toledo
.
David Briggs of the Toledo Blade newspaper wrote that the Rockets men’s basketball program and others have been cast into “Twitter purgatory.”

Twitter took down WKU’s baseball account in April for a tweet posted in 2016. The sports information contact for baseball and the overall office management have changed since 2016, and WKU has since hired a creative content producer who works exclusively with licensed music, said Zach Greenwell, WKU’s associate athletic director for communications and men’s basketball.

He said he’s still trying to work with Twitter, but that he’s getting no cooperation from Twitter and no response from Universal Music Group.

None of these schools has tweeted anything hateful or discriminatory. All of us made simple mistakes while trying to promote our programs.

Fortunately, there has been a little progress. St. Bonaventure lost its men’s basketball Twitter account during the spring and the Bonnies’ Twitter account was restored last week.

St. Bonaventure’s new account had just 500 followers while the old account had more than 15,500. The accounts are now linked together, meaning the Olean, New York school can once again reach its Twitter fans.

That’s one reason I’m writing this column. We’re hoping that Twitter will finally hear us and restore our account so that we can begin reaching our fans, alumni, former players and media.

Scott Eddy, assistant athletic director for communications at St. Bonaventure, said losing Twitter this spring was costly in terms of fundraising and recruiting. The Bonnies won the Atlantic 10 regular-season title this past season and valuable time has been lost in trying to capitalize on that accomplishment.

“Like most others, we got shut down because a former employee was naïve ‘back in the day,’ ” he said.

“Ignorance shouldn’t be an excuse, but considering we’ve followed the letter of the law for years and always removed the old tweets flagged, one would think we shouldn’t have our account permanently shut down.”

That describes ODU’s situation as well. We’ve always quickly corrected problems when we’ve been notified and will do again, when given the chance.

We hope Twitter officials will finally respond to our pleas as they have to St. Bonaventure.

Meanwhile, give our new accounts a follow. They provide the most update and comprehensive coverage on Twitter of Monarch basketball.

We’re eager to reconnect with all of you.

Minium worked 39 years at The Virginian-Pilot, where he was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and won 28 state and national writing awards. He writes news stories, features and commentaries for odusports.com and odu.edu Follow him on Twitter @Harry_MiniumODU, Instagram @hbminium1 or email hminium@odu.edu
 

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