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Could schools’ social media monitoring land them in hot water?

Aug 20, 2012, 1:07 PM EDT

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Want an impossible task? Monitor and control a school’s student athletes from ever posting something problematic on social media.

But schools are giving it a shot.

This Louisville Courier-Journal story provides an interesting look at how Louisville and Kentucky are using a social media monitoring system that alerts coaches whenever athletes use a word that could be embarrassing. According to the story, Louisville flags 406 words that relate to drugs, sex or alcohol. Kentucky targets 370 words.

Both schools pay about $6,000 a year to software companies for the monitoring system, which is installed on the athletes’ social media accounts. Coaches also have access to all of the athletes’ photos and videos.

(LSU, Florida, Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Auburn, Baylor and New Mexico are among the other schools that use similar monitoring methods.)

A sampling of athletes didn’t seem to mind the system. But a Washington, D.C. attorney is mighty peeved, calling it “unbelievably outrageous” and “clearly unconstitutional.” He says the condition of their scholarship shouldn’t grant officials access to their social networking accounts or be subject to punishment for “engaging in lawful speech that the university simply doesn’t like.”

Sounds like we could have an interesting lawsuit on our hands soon. And the debate of what the schools should do? That’s endless.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

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