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F1 TwitterGate: No More Twitter For Lewis Hamilton

by on October 9, 2012

F1 fans are a fickle bunch. It seems that I say this often, perhaps too often.  We want to get closer to the action and do everything possible at times to achieve it.  We friend on Facebook, follow on Twitter, hound teams and drivers online and at circuits, read up on every detail and follow the action as close as possible on every medium.

We complain when drivers are cryptic or “fake” when interviewed. We scoff at reports that make our heroes out to be villains yet we say we want it all and want the truth.  It’s the human condition that dictates our behavior even when it contradicts our will.

In days gone by, perhaps before the online social media revolution, there was little to no word from drivers and or teams.  Being old enough to remember when social media in F1 was simply a discussion over a cup of tea or espresso,  I can remember wishing of the interaction we take for granted today.

Twitter is a great tool for sharing thoughts socially and quite publicly.  There is no “un-post” feature however.  Once a post is online, it can be deleted but never undone.  Most teams still have a certain level of control over what their drivers communicate to the public.  In some corners, there may be some limits to freedom of speech when the consequences affect the team as whole.  So too may hold true for those employed by the sport or the media that covers it.  My friend Kate Walker, once joked with me that F1 is all about the freedom of free press (as she winked).

Finally the point of this post… Poor Lewis is getting a beating lately because of his antics on Twitter.  Out of either frustration or misplaced anger, Lewis has had a few misdemeanor Twitter incidents.  Recently, there was a fairly significant error in judgement when he posted confidential McLaren telemetry.  His latest Twitter assault had teammate Jenson Button as the target.

As many of you may know, Lewis took a little jab  at Jenson Button for “Un-Following” him on Twitter, however, it turns out that Jenson never actually followed Lewis at all (as Autosport’s Jon Noble found out….also on Twitter, I might add).  You can take the fact that Button never followed Hamilton any way you want.  Hamilton clearly convinced Button unfollowed him, called him out on Twitter and identified his displeasure in this apparent lack of respect between teammates.  Being completely in-error, Lewis quickly posted an apology.  Now remember what I stated earlier that there is no “un-post” feature on the internet.

We’ll leave Hamilton’s “Hollywood Lifestyle” influences behind as well as the psycho-babble that might indicate that Hamilton may have some self-consciousness or self-esteem issues.   We shall discard any discussions of his maturity levels that might be in question.  Instead, I’d like to concentrate momentarily on the ability for teams to control what is publicized.

Should team members be banned from all social media?  Should teams have social media directors that tweet on behalf of drivers in order to keep certain information private?  Do teams have the power to enforce a “gag-order” under contract with their employees? And more importantly, should they?

How much of this is moral judgement and human rights versus F1 business? Formula One has seen it’s share of scandals and “spy-gates”.  Secrecy is still a big part of the sport as is espionage in one form or another.  F1, its teams, people and the media covering it must learn to deal with social media.  It is vital for the sport to embrace this medium in this internet age, if it wants to survive in the information era of the socially insatiable F1 fan.

However, for now, it’s probably safer for Lewis to stop chirping and suspend all tweets.  I shutter at the thought of what Mercedes thinks of all this and what they might be prepared to do to ensure that Hamilton’s tweets are not as damaging to himself or the team in the future….

Author: Ernie Black
Twitter: @Goggs_on_F1
Blog: https://thef1poet.wordpress.com

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