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


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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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Chris Norton

    Hmm this is very old school but I can understand them wanting to keep a wraps on things. It must be the same at football clubs though and if you ignore the ocassional footballer tweeting something stupid it doesn’t really happen outside of them.

    I think they are being overly worried but we all know you aren’t allowed to say things about the Olympics unless you are an official sponsor so maybe its something to do with that.

    They are missing a trick though with all of the networks they could be using this time – this could be the first proper social games.

  2. David Phillips

    I wonder who they are using as Public Relations consultants? Obviously to be avoided.

    This sort of report is unfortunate for the Director of Communications and Public Affairs at LOGOG, Jackie Brock-Doyle (last Tweet in November and FB last month), She looks like a member of a past generation of PR people.

    It should be noted that she created communication strategies for the Commonwealth Games Federation and the Doha 2006 Asian Games Committee but social media has moved on since then and the UK is THE wired nation.

    Today there are these wonderful new devices called smart phones. Who could resist sending a photo to mum (all ready to be hacked by Mr Murdock). Who will not friends about a new brolly in Facebook?

    Time that Jackie got some good advice.

    It is interesting to note that a Reuters report should reflect on both the PR manager and her consultant.

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