Can you really control who says what about the 2012 Olympics?

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Reuters reports that 70,000 unpaid volunteers recruited for the London Olympics this summer have been warned not to give away breaking news about athletes or disclose the location of politicians and celebrities through online comments or pictures posted on social media sites.

Clearly, it makes sense to establish the ground rules on “social communicating,” as you would expect any responsible organization to do. What’s allowed and what isn’t. But also the positive: what’s encouraged, how to do it, from whom and where to get get help, etc.

Yet on the face of it according to the Reuters report, it’s rather black and white. I can’t imagine a more challenging task for the Olympics organizers than policing this blanket restriction. This is the age of mobile devices, point-and-click (or -tap), check in here, instant sharing online. It’s Twitter and Facebook and Google Plus and Foursquare. It’s about freeing up the means of connecting online with free wifi expected across London.

In any case, isn’t this “you must not” attitude somewhat counter to the spirit of inclusiveness and community that embody the Olympic games?

Writing in Forbes magazine, Ewan Spence gets to the heart of the matter:

[..] I wonder if the Olympics have an inkling of just how connected the games are going to be, how much activity there will be online, and how much conversation will be going on. And those most keen on the games have had their voice snuffed out. These rules bring on an image of a digital King Canute trying to hold back the flood of genuine opinion that will flow out of London in July and August this year.

Why not enable people to use their common sense? Seek out leaders within the volunteer community, Help them develop the guidance for their peers. I bet that would be highly effective and foster a far closer community spirit than “you must not.”

Let go the control, Olympics organizers.

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