The NFL has a social media problem that can only be fixed by professionals. Following a string of high-profile online mishaps and hacks, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) is reaching out to cybersecurity firm K2 Intelligence for help.
Earlier this week, the official NFL Twitter account became the latest target in a series of data breaches across the social network. Alongside profiles belonging to pop stars Katy Perry and Drake, the official NFL account fell prey to hackers, who used it to tweet a hoax concerning the death of commissioner Roger Goodell. The man himself quickly cleared up the ensuing confusion by announcing he was alive and well, but it seems the NFL wants to guarantee that no such slip-up occurs again.
Consequently, the league has tasked K2 Intelligence with providing its players and their families with a comprehensive social media game plan -- from tightening cybersecurity on their accounts to educating athletes about how to conduct their online activities.
"We are enthusiastic to make this state of the art cybersecurity solution package available to NFLPA members and their families to stay secure and to help with problems as they occur," said Tim Christine, NFLPA security and operations director.
K2 Intelligence claims that superstar athletes are bigger targets for hackers than the general public. To ensure the players get a better grasp on social media, the firm will monitor their accounts and personal devices to see how they handle their online data, and provide them with one-to-one training. The latter will include a digital vetting process that will ensure NFL stars are entrusting their online profiles to the right people.
"It is now more important than ever for the players to take the necessary steps to bolster their defenses and limit their exposure to those who would use the internet to cause them harm or embarrassment," said Jeremy Kroll, co-founder and CEO of K2 Intelligence.
One player that will perhaps be wishing K2 Intelligence had been in the picture earlier is Laremy Tunsil. The Miami Dolphins' offensive linesman suffered an unfortunate security breach of his Twitter account on Draft Day.
Tunsil's social media profile was used to sabotage his draft stock when a video was tweeted out from his account showing him smoking a bong attached to a gas mask. In a matter of minutes, the now infamous incident cost Tunsil his projected top-three pick, with the Dolphins eventually drafting him at No.13.
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The NFL will be hoping the cybersecurity initiative will restrict the chances of another social media mishap, whether it's a hack or individual blunder. Instead of (unsuccessfully) attempting to take matters into its own hands, as it has done in the past, it is evidently trying to implement a broader policy. The relatively unrestricted nature of social media will never cease to be a problem for sporting brands and institutions like the NFL. Athletes are only human, and are prone to making mistakes. No amount of online and offline coaching can prevent that.