Liberty Media's 'Relaxed' F1 Social Media Regulations Are Causing Problems

A little while back, Formula One's new owners pledged to soften social media regulations in order to help the sport find a broader (and younger) audience, and give the drivers a bit more freedom to connect to their fans. It was a decision praised by many (including me), and regarded as a positive step away from the draconian approach taken by the previous ownership.

Sadly, it hasn't worked out quite so well. Lewis Hamilton uploaded footage of his pole lap in China to Instagram, but said footage turned out to be in violation of guidelines protecting broadcast partners. Said partners weren't exactly gassed about it, and Liberty Media had no choice but to ask Hamilton to take it down again.

So what gives? Well, as much as Liberty Media have encouraged drivers to share photos and footage, they can't share anything which has already been licensed to broadcast partners. In layman's terms, Hamilton made something which should have only been available on TV universally available. Welcome to the world of social media sport regulation, Liberty Media. On your left you'll see the NBA and NHL, feel free to ask them for pointers. On your right you can see the NFL standing in the corner; they've been given a time out, best not to ask them anything.

These social media guidelines are so new that it's going to take drivers and teams a while to figure them out, but Hamilton certainly should have known that uploading poll footage isn't OK. In the past, Hamilton often butted heads with the ownership over his social media activity, but that was back when he basically wasn't allowed to post anything, now he can post pretty much whatever he wants and he still found a way to make waves.

The point of loosening social media regulations was to broaden the sport's appeal to younger audiences, or just anyone who isn't currently having a midlife crisis. The trouble with that is that it may devalue the entire brand, as broadcasters will have a harder time trusting that their rights are protected, especially after this. In the long run it shouldn't do the sport much harm, but Liberty Media need to send a clear message to racers and teams about what alright and what isn't.

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