In 1936, the Berlin Olympics featured 2,500 radio broadcasts in 28 different languages. The 1964 Tokyo games marked the first live Olympic satellite broadcast. 1996 was the first time the Olympics had a website with news, photos and event results.
In 2012, London will be home to the “first social Olympics.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has launched The Olympic Athletes’ Hub, an online headquarters that lets fans connect to their favorite athletes’ Facebook and Twitter pages. Users will also be able to connect with other spectators by participating in real-time chats with fans inside the Olympic Village.
The Hub represents an exciting correlation between one of the oldest ways cultures from opposite ends of the earth connect and one of the newest. And just like the Olympics are governed by athletic scoring rules in addition to general restrictions concerning event and branding matters, social media offers up its own complicated network of technicalities and regulations.
So despite the Hub’s hyper-social atmosphere, it’ll still be guided by the following Olympic rules (as deciphered by Sam Laird of Mashable.com):
- Athletes will not be allowed to tweet photos of themselves with products that aren’t official Olympic sponsors.
- Athletes will not be allowed to share photos or videos from inside the athletes’ village.
- Business owners won’t be able to advertise with official Olympics nomenclature such as “2012 Games”.
- Fans may also be barred from sharing certain photos and videos of themselves enjoying the festivities.
- Break these rules and you could be prosecuted.
There are, of course, many details that will be more carefully explained in the upcoming weeks and months. If one thing’s for sure, it’ll be interesting to see how the new Hub is received by spectators and athletes alike – and whether any criminal charges will result from policy violations.
The Olympic Athlete’s Hub is not just another topic for the great debate concerning social media policy. The IOC is made up of 139 members from everywhere – Saint Lucia, Hungary, Fiji, Pakistan, Qatar, Ethiopia, New Zealand. I’ll say it again: ev-er-ee-where. Therefore, regardless of whether any major discrepancies arise in the summer of 2012, the Hub offers a more universal case study for examining how THE WORLD – not a local business, regional organization or single government – agrees to treat social media.
One final thought: In addition to thinking about questions of social media policy and intercultural communication, we don’t blame you for wondering how long it must take the IOC (and their legal partners) to agree on anything.