In the wake of Adam Johnson's conviction for molesting a 15-year-old girl, English football team Fulham conducted a social media experiment, wherein they tested their young players on their restraint in getting involved with young fans. It was in effect a sting operation to ensure players were following guidelines about engagement with fans on social media, which is regulated by the FA. Johnson had used social media to communicate with the girl.
Fulham hired a web expert to set up a fake Facebook profile under the guise of a 16-year-old girl, and send messages to Fulham players, according to Evening Standard.
Best case scenario: no players respond to the messages. According to the team's former manager Kit Symons, a few players responded:
Mr Symons told the Times: "Some of the young players fell for it as real.
"It was a short, sharp shock.
"You can tell lads about getting caught out and they’ll think ‘oh they won’t catch me’ and then that happens, they are caught."
As Deadspin points out, Fulham's experiment was "playing with fire," as it probably could've gone much worse. But it's likely that Fulham's heart was in the right place in trying to teach their players a lesson. On social media, it's easy to communicate with anyone anywhere, anytime, especially between fans and celebrities.
Unfortunately, it's easy for people like Adam Johnson to take advantage of young fans for nefarious purposes. As disheartening as it is to see the results, if any valuable lesson was indeed embedded in Fulham's players, then perhaps the experiment was worth it.