WWE is once again reportedly cracking down on how its talent uses social media platforms.
According to Wrestling Inc's Raj Giri, the company is setting up an escalating series of punishments for those who draw attention to any third party in a post. The entities in question include another business, brand, person or charity.
"Wrestling Inc. has learned that the violations start with a warning, then a fine and finally suspension," Giri wrote. "The company is claiming ownership of talent Twitter and Instagram accounts via a clause in their contracts that grants WWE the exclusive use of their likeness."
This comes after Giri reported in September that WWE was prohibiting on-screen talent from using streaming services such as Cameo and Twitch. Pro Wrestling Sheet's Ryan Satin shared a statement from the company regarding the matter:
"Much like Disney and Warner Bros., WWE creates, promotes and invests in its intellectual property, i.e. the stage names of performers like The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Big E and Braun Strowman. It is the control and exploitation of these characters that allows WWE to drive revenue, which in turn enables the company to compensate performers at the highest levels in the sports entertainment industry. Notwithstanding the contractual language, it is imperative for the success of our company to protect our greatest assets and establish partnerships with third parties on a companywide basis, rather than at the individual level, which as a result will provide more value for all involved."
Days later, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported WWE would allow talent to continue using YouTube and Twitch if they used their real names.
The situation was another entry into the longstanding conversation over how the promotion treats its most visible employees.
During an episode of his HBO series Last Week Tonight in April 2019, John Oliver dove deep into the health care offered to wrestlers. At one point, he called WWE's policies "morally subterranean."
Former world champion CM Punk gave a wide-ranging interview to Colt Cabana in 2014 airing his grievances with his former employer. He alleged WWE's medical team failed to properly diagnose a MRSA infection on his lower back.
All Elite Wrestling star Jon Moxley gave what amounted to an exit interview to Chris Jericho in May 2019, explaining how he grew to feel creatively stifled, which impacted his mental health.
More than anything, limiting the extent to which WWE stars can use third-party platforms seems like an odd step because it hinders the ability with which wrestlers and on-screen personalities can expand their audience. That in turn might bring new fans into the tent who would otherwise have overlooked the WWE product.