The National Football League has had a love-hate relationship with social media.
On Monday, the league announced that it had modified its social-media policy to limit Twitter and social-networking use by players, coaches, league officials, and even the media.
The NFL said that it will let players, coaches, and other team personnel engage in social networking during the season. However, they will be prohibited from using Twitter and from updating profiles on Facebook and other social-networking sites during games.
In addition, they will not be allowed to tweet or update social-networking profiles 90 minutes before a game and until post-game interviews are completed.
The rules even extend to people "representing" a player or coach on their personal accounts.
The NFL didn't just stop with the league itself, though. The organization also said that media attending games will be prohibited from providing game updates through social networks.
"Longstanding policies prohibiting play-by-play descriptions of NFL games in progress apply fully to Twitter and other social media platforms," the National Football League said in its statement. "Internet sites may not post detailed information that approximates play-by-play during a game.
"While a game is in progress, any forms of accounts of the game must be sufficiently time-delayed and limited in amount (e.g., score updates with detail given only in quarterly game updates) so that the accredited organization's game coverage cannot be used as a substitute for, or otherwise approximate, authorized play-by-play accounts."
The fact that the NFL won't allow tweeting during games isn't new. The league instituted the policy for players after they started using technology in touchdown celebrations. But the updated regulations now extend to just about anyone who is remotely involved in the game.
Why the NFL decided to change its policy now is unknown. But it might have felt compelled to update it after Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco said in a recent Ustream chat that he plans to circumvent the rules and tweet while playing.
It could have also had something to do with Donte Stallworth's Twitter account. The player was suspended by the NFL after he was charged with DUI manslaughter and served 30 days in jail. His Twitter account features tweets discussing his suspension and incarceration.
Still, if Ochocinco or any other player tweets during a game, it might be difficult for the NFL to enforce the rule. And since players can create accounts that the NFL might not even know about, it's doubtful that the league will be able to monitor all social-media activity. We'll just have to wait until the season starts next week and see what happens when someone breaks the rules.
Look for Ochocinco to test them first.