For the London 2012 Olympics, the IOC has taken some steps to enable fans and athletes to use social media to enhance the experience. This is clearly a positive development compared to previous games. During the 2004 and 2006 Olympic Games for example, blogging was banned. Now, “the IOC Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines for participants and other accredited persons” even encourages the use of social media, albeit under some heavy restrictions. [pdf]
“The IOC actively encourages and supports athletes and other accredited persons at the Olympic Games to take part in ‘social media’ and to post, blog and tweet their experiences.”
The IOC has also creaded the Olympic Athletes Hub which collects the official Facebook and Twitter accounts of participating athletes (although the list is not that extensive, the Swedes listed in the Hub are mostly Winter Olympics participants).
So while we will probably see some creative uses of social media during the games, we will most certainly also see some failures. All the guidelines in the world won’t stop people from posting content that others might find inappropriate. The first example comes from the two Australian swimmers Nick D’Arcy and Kenrick Monk. Only two months before the start of the London 2012 Olympics, they posted a picture on Facebook in which they posed with shot guns and a pistol. Many found this image offending and it forced Swimming Australia to issue a statement saying it became aware of “inappropriate photos” and “instantly contacted the athletes involved to ask for them to be removed.”
Nick Green, the chef de mission for the Australian Olympic team, said:
“These postings today are foolish and clearly inappropriate for members of the 2012 Australian Olympic Team.”
Now the swimmers have removed the picture from Facebook and apologized. I am sure we will see similar examples of both athletes and other participants who get in trouble for activities in social media. Hopefully though, this will not discourage people from using social media. It’s a strong positive force, you just need to use some common sense and also realize that nothing you post is private.