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Volume 6 No. 264
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PyeongChang Olympics Sponsors Warned Of Online Hijacking

Corporate sponsors of the PyeongChang 2018 Games have been "warned to expect their hashtags to be hijacked by social media users looking to make political statements," according to Jennifer Duke of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Big-name brands sponsoring or partnering with sports events could find their social media strategies "increasingly co-opted by those keen to use viral hashtags for their own purposes," according to Deakin Business School faculty member Michael Naraine, who has seen a "rise in corporate concern since social media use ramped up during the 2012 London Olympics." He said that McDonalds "lost control" of its #CheersToSochi and #imlovingit hashtags on Twitter to "vitriol online" in Sochi. In '12, its #McDStories hashtag was also hijacked. Naraine: "It will be interesting to see how the political element surpasses the Games themselves, with the potential for sponsor hashtags to be used in posts about athlete safety, the likelihood of retaliation from North Korea and the omnipresence of U.S. President [Donald] Trump's threats." Major brands are "still intending to use hashtags as part of their Olympic Games promotions," with teams in place to monitor social media responses. A Facebook Australia spokesperson said that hashtags on Facebook and Instagram "may not be available" if they were consistently found to have content that did not "follow community standards." Twitter did not respond to a request for comment, but it is understood the company has an "anti-spam team" (SMH, 1/12).