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Mark Cuban was fined for tweeting about officials, raising new questions

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Mark Cuban thanks officials for their hard work (George Frey/ Getty).

Mark Cuban has been fined many, many times since he bought the Dallas Mavericks in 2000. In all but a very few cases (and maybe none at all, now that I think about it), he has been punished for commenting on what he perceives to be poor officiating. He's often correct — at other times he's just trying to stand up for his team. Either way, the NBA hits him for it, because that's just one of their rules.

So, in isolation, it's not huge news that the NBA decided to fine Cuban $50,000 for tweeting his displeasure with the referees after a loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday. What is notable is that he's being fined for tweeting. From David Goldman for CNNMoney.com:

Following a 99-96 loss to the New Orleans Hornets, the outspoken Cuban blasted off a tweet saying he had "failed miserably" in his attempts to "fix the officiating in this league." He'll be paying nearly $368 per character for the short missive.

Criticizing officials is a favorite pastime for Cuban, who has been fined several million dollars over the past 13 years for his remarks as a team owner.

As Goldman notes, this is not the first time an owner has been fined for a tweet — Micky Arison was fined a half-million dollars during 2011's lockout for telling a follower that he was the wrong owner to criticize for the work stoppage. But Cuban is the owner most likely to use Twitter for these kinds of complaints, because he's both the most outspoken owner and the one who uses the microblogging service most often.

If he's going to make a habit of this activity, the NBA would do well to come up with some guidelines for fining tweets. For instance, the 136 characters in Cuban's offending tweet comes out to $367.65 per character. But should Cuban be fined on a per-character basis? If he had sent out two tweets on the officiating, would he have been fined $100,000? What if he had retweeted another comment about the poor officiating? Don't even get us started on the Favorite button!

These are important questions to answer, because they will define whether Cuban tweets full sentences or goes with "REFS BAD" the next time he's upset. It's a new social media world, and we have to come up with rules if we're ever going to understand it.

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