Yesterday afternoon, Ryan Seacrest, the host of FOX’s reality television singing competition American Idol announced via his blog that FOX would allow the recently cast Top 24 contestants to use Facebook, Twitter and MySpace during the competition.
He wrote, “In a testament to the undeniable influence of social media in today’s day in age, American Idol producers and network executives, after nine seasons have finally agreed to allow contestants to maintain social networking profiles on Twitter, Facebook and Myspace. In previous seasons, all social networking was banned, and any pre-existing profiles were deleted prior to the start of live shows. While we’re still unaware of the exact ‘rules of engagement’ for these profiles, considering they were all custom-made by FOX, we can imagine producers have established ground rules for what’s kosher to be discussed on Twitter and elsewhere.”
RaceTalk has previously reported the NBA and the NFL putting restrictions on athletes using social media close to game time, and it seems FOX will follow their lead with this new crop of contestants.
While it is unclear what exactly the ground rules are, FOX has created each contestant’s social media profile themselves, taking control before the contestants even begin pushing out information into the social media universe.
While I respect FOX’s attempt to keep up with the demand for a social media presence, creating profiles for the contestants and providing guidelines for what they can discuss seems to defeat the purpose of following their personal accounts. Why not just have a general American Idol profile and push out general, non-spoiler updates?
When the phone lines are open, I’d like to cast a vote for authenticity, please.