PUBLISHED: 14:20 EST, 1 February 2013 | UPDATED: 16:51 EST, 1 February 2013
The University of Michigan has revealed it ‘catfished’ its own athletes to teach them the dangers of social media.
Michigan athletics director David Brandon admitted this morning that the college hired an attractive woman to contact players over the internet to test how they’d respond to her advances.
He said several athletes’ replies were ‘wholly inappropriate’ but refused to name and shame the players in question.
News of Michigan’s secret social media lesson comes after the Manti Te’o saga, where the Notre Dame linebacker was duped into having a fake online relationship with a woman who never existed.
Test: Michigan athletics director David Brandon, pictured, revealed the college hired an attractive woman to contact players online
Eleven Warriors reporter Kyle Rowland tweeted Brandon’s cunning tactic this morning.
‘Brandon said the athletic department catfished several athletes to teach them the dangers of social networking. Very interesting,’ Rowland wrote.
He then tweeted that Brandon confessed the ploy during a meeting with players.
‘Brandon had meeting with players, and the girl walked in. Athletes were shocked, but it was valuable lesson in dangers of social media,’ Rowland tweeted.
Some Ohio State University fans have been slamming the exercise.
Footballers: The college said it hired the medial consulting company to test athletes in its football team, pictured, and basketball teams
But Rowland defended the move: ‘There was no public shaming. I see many OSU fans bashing Michigan and Brandon, but I think it’s smart to educate players,’ he wrote, adding in a follow up tweet: ‘I’d say the Manti Te’o saga illustrates that point big time.’
UM associate athletic director David Ablauf revealed to CrainsDetroit.com that the department hired a media consulting company to instruct players on the perils of social networking.
Ablauf said a female staffer ‘friended’ athletes on Facebook and followed them on Twitter.
She also searching through their profiles for embarrassing pictures or information.
But he said the woman wasn’t ‘catfishing’ as such, because she only had limited or in some cases no real interaction with the athletes.
Catfishing generally refers to when someone lures another person into an online relationship by posting false information and generally another person’s pictures on social media sites to create the illusion they’re someone else.
Te’o: News of Michigan’s secret social media lesson comes after the Manti Te’o saga, where the Notre Dame linebacker was duped into having a fake online relationship with a woman who never existed.
Ablauf told the news website: ‘She would go through their accounts and find stuff that was either in inappropriate for the public or could be misconstrued.’
‘As part of their presentation, they introduce her. A lot of our student athletes couldn’t believe it because they knew her,’ he said.
‘We would explain to them how what they put out there could do damage to them personally and the Michigan brand.’
UM initially did the exercise in 2011 with the football team and both basketball teams but did it again with all 900 athletes in the fall.
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