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Volume 24 No. 156

Events and Attractions

During the final one-on-one interview at the '12 Covington & Burling Sports Media & Technology conference, Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan weighed in on global privacy issues, data security practices and enforcement. She also gave insights on the social media scene moving forward.

NO FAKE: Egan discussed fake accounts, which are a violation of Facebook's terms. The fake accounts come at particularly high rates among high-profile athletes and coaches. Egan: “It’s a violation of our terms. We think an underlying core principle on Facebook is identity. We think real identity breeds responsibility. People are more likely to be responsible when they are accountable and their authentic selves. That real identity culture is a fundamental principle of ours. If we learn of a fake account, we take it down. We have a Users Operation team that addresses these issues. We also have technological mechanisms with which we can detect fake accounts. That’s a key effort that we have underway."

AT THE GAME: Egan discussed improving the ability to be able share things while in venues and during other live events. Egan: “We look at it in the sense of ‘this is a tremendous opportunity for brands and how can they do this in a privacy-protective way.’ But what does that mean? For us, it goes back to transparency and what controls do users have. So when it comes to sharing things, the key thing we’ve done is brought control with respect to every item that people share. We’re trying to mirror the web experience on mobile. So every time someone shares, they have control over that audience. … That control is something we’re pushing internationally as part of our public policy.”

: As teams seek to increase their younger fan bases, companies like Facebook must balance business with protection of minors. Egan: “Today, on Facebook, we only allow people over the age of 13. We ask their age when they come to our site. If they don’t indicate they are of age, we block that as part of best practices that the Federal Trade Commission has put out there for kids. We do have a different experience for that 13-17 year-old environment. We have a safety advisory board, with leading experts in the safety space. They have sort of been walking with us through all the different issues that come with minors. Whether it be bullying or other issues. We’ve been really proactive in this space. From a privacy perspective in this space, it isn’t a different experience. So largely, it’s a friends of friends experience. If you indicate you’re 15, you can’t share something publicly. We limit what can be shared in that case to the friends of friends experience. … Throughout the site, we have different protections for minors than we have for adults. And there has been a lot of pressure on us opening up to the under-13 environment. Studies have shown there are people on Facebook under 13. Parents are helping them get on Facebook and will condone the lying about the age. They see Facebook as a great way to keep in touch with grandparents and so forth. We’re thinking carefully about it. But our service today is not designed for that under 13 group.”

To build a successful media strategy and maximize rights fees in the future, properties need to foster competition and invest in technology, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said yesterday during a one-on-one interview at the ’12 Covington & Burling Sports Media & Technology conference. Tagliabue pointed to moves he made at the NFL as an example. When he took over as commissioner in '89, the league had broadcast-rights agreements with CBS and NBC, and a new, small agreement with ESPN. There was very little competition in the marketplace, but the NFL fostered competition on the broadcast side by selling rights to Fox, and on the cable side by selling rights to TNT. The league also invested in technology by partnering with DirecTV to make all games available on a “Sunday Ticket” package. Tagliabue said, “When you deploy your rights, you have to understand you can encourage technology and structure competition in a way that gives you a sustainable environment over the long run. You can’t just focus on what your rights fee is going to be or what your audience is going to be. You’ve got to, as a rightsholder, invest in technology -- directly or indirectly -- and invest in competition. ... As long as you keep investing in innovation, technology and competition you’ll be okay if you have a product that drives that.”


-- Tagliabue on the potential of YouTube, Netflix, Apple and others bidding for sports rights: “Each company presents a different set of issues. Some are going to be taken over by technology. Some are going to be the cutting edge of technology. As I look at the world right now ... the same three issues are present in higher education, business and sports: technology and the pace of innovation and the ROI for new technologies; globalization which creates massive new markets and also massive innovators, which creates the opportunity for conflict or collaboration; and value, which the other part of value is cost. You can use the technologies, you can use globalization, you can use partnerships to deliver better costs. But those three things -- and I’m traveling all over the world, you can have breakfast with business people, lunch with people in sports and dinner with people in higher education -- and those are the three things people are talking about.”

-- On the challenges of leading an organization: “What keeps you up at night is all the conflict you have at an organization. It’s not only internal conflict. It’s conflict with outside partners. Managing conflict is very hard. It’s stressful. It requires a lot of thought. It requires a lot of creativity. It requires a lot of confrontation. But it’s healthy. If you don’t have conflicting ideas coming up, odds are you have a comatose organization, which is not a good place to be. Conflict in this sense means conflicting idea. You have to have a balance between people who are entrepreneurial and people who understand the value of teamwork and building consensus. ... There was a great World War II general who said, ‘When everybody on my staff is thinking alike, I know nobody is thinking.’ You have to have different ideas bubbling up in your organization.”

Sports teams and organizations fail to measure social media correctly, concentrating on re-tweets rather than real interactions, and that limits the value they get out of social platforms, a group of entrepreneurs said during a panel titled "From the Ground Up: The Executives Behind Media and Digital Startup Companies Take You Behind the Scenes." During this final panel at the ’12 Covington & Burling Sports Media & Technology conference, PopTips Founder & CEO Kelsey Falter, whose company is a tool for interacting with Twitter followers, said that she would give teams a C or D grade on what they do with social media. Speaking on the the panel, “From the Ground Up: The Executives Behind Media and Digital Startup Companies Take You Behind the Scenes,” Falter said, “They’re still operating on a brand agency model. ... They’re buying fans for reach, which is kind of fluffy.” FanBridge co-Founder & CEO Spencer Richardson agreed, saying that many teams still need to overhaul their internal structure so they can communicate with fans more effectively. He cites many teams that still have e-mail communication with fans separated from social media communication. Richardson: “Data is showing them that they can’t have these things live in silos operationally anymore.” RSE Ventures President & CEO Matt Higgins, who previously worked as NFL Jets Exec VP/Business Operations, expects issues like that to begin to change because teams are far more open to technology today than they were in the past. Higgins said, “The business is under attack from the at-home experience. You can’t take your fan for granted any more. ... Everyone has to work harder.” OneUp Games Founder & CEO Daren Trousdell agreed with Higgins, and said that the integration of WiFi technology at stadiums will only accelerate the technology teams adopt. Trousdell: “Access and utility around mobile in sports is going to make a humongous difference.”