SBD/July 26, 2012/Olympics

Olympics Has First Social Media Casualty As Greek Triple Jumper Gets Kicked Off Team For Tweet

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Papachristou's elimination is a reminder to athletes to be mindful of what they post
Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou yesterday was “kicked off the team” for posting a tweet that was deemed to be racist, according to a front-page piece by Kelly Whiteside of USA TODAY. Papachristou wrote, “With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!" Papachristou's ban had reminded athletes "to be thoughtful before tweeting." U.S. fencer Tim Morehouse said, “We’re finding our way. I’m very conscientious of what I’m putting on Twitter and Facebook. When you hear stories like that, you’re sort of learning the line of what you can present and what you can’t.” Whiteside notes when the U.S. athletes arrived at the Olympic Village, they were “reminded about the International Olympic Committee’s social media guidelines” (USA TODAY, 7/26). USA TODAY’s Mike Lopresti in a sports section cover story wrote Papachristou was “the first Twitter casualty of the Summer Games.” Decision-makers “usually feel compelled to show no mercy when everyone is watching, and they didn’t here” (USA TODAY, 7/26). However, in Orlando, Shannon Owens wrote instead of “banning and dismissing, a greater good can be accomplished by allowing this to become a teachable moment” (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 7/25).

SOCIAL GAMES
: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Emily Steel notes there is a “new wave of athletic endorsements, where a star’s presence on Twitter, Facebook and the like factors into which athletes marketers choose to sponsor.” Several of those relationships “are taking centre stage” during the London Games. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt “recently posted a photo of a refrigerator filled with Gatorade sports drink to his 620,000 Twitter followers,” while U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps “mentions Visa, Head & Shoulders shampoo, and Hilton Hotels amid the training updates he shares with his 5.4m Facebook fans.” CAA Global Dir of Sports Endorsements Lowell Taub said, “With almost every single deal that my group puts together, sponsors ask, ‘Can you tell me about the athlete’s social media footprint, how many Twitter followers do they have? How many Facebook fans? Will they do some tweets for the campaign?'” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/26).

POTENTIAL THREAT? In London, Chris Parsons writes high-profile Olympic athletes “are sparking potential terror alerts by posting pictures of their official Olympic Village passes on Twitter.” Several competitors have “caused security headaches by tweeting high resolution images of their LOCOG accreditation,” and that has “raised fears that the barcodes -- which do not feature infra-red or microchip technology -- could be duplicated by fraudsters.” Threat management firm IPC believes the photos could be a “golden ticket” into Olympic venues for terrorists. Experts said that organized crime gangs and ticket touts “could also gain access to venues by duplicating the official LOCOG lanyards from Twitter.” U.S. women’s soccer MF Carli Lloyd “was among the first” to tweet her accreditation for the Olympic Village. IPC Head Will Geddes said, “What you've got here is a really stupid situation were athletes have been given important security documents and have [compromised] those documents by showing the information contained to all and sundry” (London DAILY MAIL, 7/26).

MOOD LIGHTING: In Newark, Dave D’Alessandro notes international design firm Sosolimited will “interpret the entire country’s mood about the upcoming Games by reading all their Twitter feeds, and then project their findings onto the most visible place in the city -- in the lights of the London Eye.” In other words, they have turned “the giant wheel into a national mood ring.” Sosolimited co-Founder John Rothenberg said, “The idea is to watch the energy of the nation, in real time.” The company has been working on this “since July 19th in conjunction with EDF Energy -- the French company that operates the lighting on the wheel.” Rothenberg said that the “happy mood (yellow) spiked the day Brit Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/26).
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