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The 'Twitter Olympics' Have More Social Media Fails than Victories

July 31, 2012


With more people tweeting about the Olympics just on Thursday than all of those over the course of the Beijing Games, London 2012 may have rendered a “Twitter (News - Alert) Olympics.” But unforeseen complications may be putting a stop to the social media records that were anticipated from this year’s Olympic Games. 

Spectators have been requested to only tweet from the Olympics if it is “urgent,” as tweets and SMS messages are clogging networks and even making it difficult for broadcasters to determine the distance between cyclists after the tweets and texts caused the GPS and communications systems to fail.

Although Twitter posed an issue for commentators, viewers have been assured that these issues did not affect the record keeping. 

An International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesperson urged spectators that “if you want to send something, we are not going to say ‘don’t, you can’t do it’ – and we would certainly never prevent people. [But] if it’s not an urgent one, please kind-of take it easy.” 

Since the announcement, the situation seems to have improved, with the coverage of women’s cycling uninterrupted by network issues.

Communications systems are not the only ones to have Twitter issues with this year’s Olympics. Many have tweeted about the so-called #NBCfail: tape delay. Even NBC’s chief digital officer, Vivian Schiller, got involved, tweeting, “The medal for most Olympic whining goes to everyone complaining about what happens every 4 yrs., tape delay.”

Worse still, British Olympic diver, Tom Daley, found himself the center of harassment on Twitter, which result in the arrest of a 17-year-old, under British laws that permit prosecution for tweeting menacing, indecent or offensive messages.

This year has certainly shaped up to be the Twitter Olympics, but not in the way that Olympic planners predicted.

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Edited by Braden Becker