Michigan State Paid $500K to Monitor Social Media of Larry Nassar's Victims

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 29, 2018

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018 file photo, Larry Nassar sits during his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Mich. Nassar, a 54-year-old former doctor for USA Gymnastics and member of Michigan State's sports medicine staff, admitted to molesting athletes while he was supposedly treating them for injuries. Nassar was the U.S. national team’s doctor from 1995 to 2015. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Michigan State University paid $500,000 to a public relations firm to track social media accounts and activity of people involved with the Larry Nassar case. 

Per Matt Mencarini of the Lansing State Journal, the New York-based firm Weber Shandwick followed accounts of Nassar's victims and their families, as well as journalists, celebrities and politicians.

Weber Shandwick used 18 different employees to track the social media activity covering more than 1,440 hours and accounting for a total of $517,343 to Michigan State. 

Kimberly Dixon, director of global corporate communications for Weber Shandwick, wrote in an email to Mencarini that their work with the school is now over.

"Weber Shandwick was retained by outside counsel to Michigan State University in late December 2017 to provide communications support," Dixon wrote. "Weber Shandwick’s work has since ended."

Dixon also noted part of the firm's work included monitoring "media and social media conversations surrounding the university, which included posts from the survivors of the Larry Nassar case."

Mencarini noted other tasks were to detail how social media engagement, including likes and retweets, posts from victims, celebrities and journalists discussing the case were received. 

Nassar, who previously worked as a doctor at Michigan State and United States of America Gymnastics, was convicted and sentenced to at least 100 years in prison from three different cases involving child pornography, sexual abuse and sexual assault. 

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