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Is Online Income Worth the Price?

by michelle
Published: Updated:


Recap: Ohio State basketball athlete E.J. Liddell received a slew of derogatory direct messages on his social media accounts following OSU’s loss to Oral Roberts. And unfortunately, that is not uncommon for public figures and influencers.  

With social media cutting out the “middle man” that was the media, fans (and trolls) have more direct access to athletes. This is not always a bad thing, as OSU soccer athlete Megan Kammerdeiner shared she has had a mostly positive experience from fans reaching out to her. However, as demonstrated by Liddell, there are negatives that go along with being in the spot light. 

Observations: This brings to light the “flip side” of being an influencer. When the NCAA permits athletes to monetize their NIL, athletes will have a choice: Make some extra income off endorsements and social media campaigns, while risking harassment from internet trolls OR to keep their social media private for them to share their lives with family and friends. It’s unfortunate that this is the reality of the world we currently live in and that internet trolls can be so cruel. While Instagram has added new features such as limiting commenting and sorting messages from unknowns into a different folder, it isn’t enough. 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — At the bottom of a screen filled with racist, homophobic and violent slurs, Ohio State basketball star E.J. Liddell’s Instagram messenger posed an obtuse question.

Liddell could already read the messages calling him a piece of excrement and “a disgrace?” Instagram needed to know: Did he also want to “accept” them?

Welcome to the reality of social media, where public figures tacitly accept the most deplorable impulses of strangers in exchange for their time in the spotlight.

Liddell was not the first Ohio State athlete to receive disturbing messages, according to athletic director Gene Smith. He was the first whose harassment reached the level that OSU felt compelled to report the threats to law enforcement.

By Monday, Liddell was no longer the only participant in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament facing such attacks. Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, born in Jamaica but who has lived in the United States since 2014, disclosed an Instagram message telling him to “go back home” and using the term “monkey.”


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