Do footballers know Twitter is public?

Given the messages footballers put out on Twitter, sometimes it's debatable whether they know how the social media site works. But sometimes, having Aston Villa players tweeting is simply a delight.

This is a genuine question I've had for quite some time: Do footballers know anyone can see anything they post on Twitter? Sometimes even a direct message, if they push the wrong button. Sometimes I only wonder this in relation to their conversations with one another. For instance, Chris Herd and Andreas Weimann seemed awfully surprised when Barry Bannan caught them having dinner together without inviting him.

But then there are other times that I honestly believe footballers don't have a clue how social media works. Perhaps they missed the "social" part? Or "media"? Do they not remember Rio Ferdinand's fine for his twitter messages? What about Ashley Cole's? It should be clear that Twitter can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

And yet Villa's footballers still enjoy total unfettered freedom when creating 140 character messages. That leads to tweets such as this one, from Eric Lichaj:

Eric...you might want to remember that your girlfriend -- who posted a photo of the two of you yesterday, so she clearly has access to Twitter -- can see what you're writing. And absolutely no girlfriend is going to appreciate having these sorts of tweets sent out to the general public.

But for the most part, I like having so many Aston Villa players on the Twitter. The ones left out of the match day squad are generally tweeting their support. They gently mock one another. Andy Marshall creates a great new nickname like "Dorkins", which he then claims is an auto-correct, leading the rest of us to wonder why "dorkins" exists in his phone's dictionary.

Some people ask why I bother to follow footballers on Twitter. It's because it humanizes them. Sometimes it reveals their utter cluelessness, a la Eric Lichaj. Other times it shows me they care about the Villa, like Ron Vlaar getting genuinely excited for a goal. And sometimes, it just helps me know that they're only grabbing takeout and going to bed early. They're just like me!

Interested in following Villa players on Twitter? Check out the list I've put together. And if I've missed someone, please, let me know.

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