SBD/July 31, 2012/Olympics

Offensive Tweet Sees Another Athlete Sent Home; Twitter's Impact Heavy At London Games

Morganella was sent home after "racially insensitive" tweet about South Koreans
Thanks to the "megaphone that is social media," athletes at the London Games "are sharing their opinions -- some controversial -- and discovering how far their voices reach," according to a front-page piece by Jon Saraceno of USA TODAY. The latest "Twitter victim" was Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella, who was kicked off the team "after a racially insensitive remark directed at South Koreans." Morganella's tweet said that he "wanted to beat up South Koreans, that they should 'burn' and, in the most egregious reference, described them as a 'bunch of mongoloids'" (USA TODAY, 7/31). USA TODAY's Louise Branson writes the advantages of Twitter "are obvious, and exciting." Many Americans "are now tracking less popular events" and "connecting more intimately with athletes." Branson: "The disadvantages? Tweets can become self-promoting or worse" (USA TODAY, 7/31). The GLOBE & MAIL's Josh O'Kane notes Morganella and Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou, who "was expelled last week for a racist tweet against African immigrants," both "have since apologized, but their stories are poignant in a world that is growing used to impolite online comment" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/31). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS writes, "Twitter can be dangerous to your Olympic well-being." For the second time in four days, an athlete "has been bounced out of here because of an unseemly 140-character blast from a Twitter accounts" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/31). Also in N.Y., Ken Belson writes, "The expulsions highlight the growing tension around the use of social media by athletes" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/31). In S.F., Paresh Dave writes, "The trending topic at the Olympic Games might actually be Twitter." The social media site has "made its omnipresence felt" at the London Games. Twitter's "growing presence has been apparent in more than half a dozen instances in the games' opening days" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/31). 

TAKE WITH A GRAIN OF SALT?'s Greg Couch writes, "The truth is that tweets are being judged way too harshly." They are "little thoughts that just pop out of people’s heads, meant to be stream of consciousness." That "doesn’t mean you can go without a filter, but it does mean that we need to lower our standards a little before using tweets to judge who people are and what they’re about" (, 7/31).'s Jason Whitlock writes, "In terms of can’t-forget signature moments, this Olympics is going to be remembered for faux Twitter outrage." Athletes are "getting sent home for saying dumb (spit) on Twitter, and they’re protesting the IOC’s ban on athletes thanking their non-IOC-fleeced sponsors." Whitlock: "Thank God there wasn't Twitter in the 1960s." U.S. sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith "would’ve never raised black-gloved fists" (, 7/31). In Sydney, Darren Davidson wrote it is "only day three of the Olympics, yet Twitter already has played a key role in some of the biggest stories in London" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/30). MARKETWATCH's Sam Mamudi writes, "Less than a week in, and it seems Twitter in particular is having more of an impact than many would have guessed" (, 7/31).

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: In Boston, Hiawatha Bray writes, "Organizers and broadcasters who hailed the London Games as the first social media Olympics may now wish the events were a little less social, as heavy smartphone use caused technical glitches and Twitter became a worldwide platform for complaints about everything from ad sponsors to TV coverage." A study by Cambridge-based Bluefin Labs found that Americans "posted 4.5 million Olympics-related Facebook and Twitter messages on Saturday and 5 million on Sunday." By comparison, this year’s Super Bowl "generated 12.2 million messages." Overall, Twitter reaction to the London Games "has been solidly positive." A study by Boston-based Sosolimited found that over 60% percent of all messages posted about the Olympics since competition began "have been favorable." But that "leaves plenty of room for hostile comment" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/31).
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