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Manti Te'o situation prompts USC to remind athletes about social media

January 18, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • Manti Te'o says he was the victim of a "catfishing" scam online.
Manti Te'o says he was the victim of a "catfishing" scam… (Joe Raymond / Associated…)

In the wake of the controversy surrounding former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden on Friday sent an email to all Trojans athletes reminding them to use social media responsibly.

“This is just the latest in our effort to constantly educate our student athletes on the smart use of social media and their online presence,” athletic department spokesman Tim Tessalone said. “We start the day they get here and do it in a variety of ways — with talks, seminars, guest speakers, emails and other things.

“Pat thought this was a teachable moment.”

Before the Sun Bowl, two USC football players made disparaging remarks about El Paso on their Twitter feeds. The players and Coach Lane Kiffin later apologized.

Here is Haden’s email:

“Dear Trojan Student-Athlete:

In light of the unfortunate and still-unfolding “catfishing” situation occurring with Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, I thought it is important to remind you of the unique social media challenges you face as a USC student-athlete.

We talk constantly that you have “no private moments” as a USC student-athlete.  Everything you post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. is being eyeballed not only by your friends, but by many others, including Trojan fans, the media, the NCAA, your teachers and future employers … even if your settings are private.  And the prevalence of cell phone cameras makes it easy to catch you in an inappropriate moment that can lead to online embarrassment.

Furthermore, as we are seeing in the Te’o case, not everybody in the virtual world has your best intentions in mind.  Please be careful not only what you post online, but with whom you communicate.  Not everybody is who they appear to be.  As a USC student-athlete, you are particularly vulnerable.

Remember, you are representing yourself (and your personal brand), your family, your team and your University.  Be smart on what you post and who your friend so that your good reputation is not harmed.”

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