Social media, the Olympics and #NBCfail

The first Olympics since social media went well and truly mainstream, the London 2012 games was always going to exert a digital pull like no other before it.

And what could make for a better social media event than a good #fail, which we now appear to have thanks to US television network NBC.

Its complaint to Twitter after British journalist Guy Adams tweeted the, already public, email address of an NBC executive resulted in Adams’ account on the social network being suspended.

The offending tweet by Adams, the Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, came after a series of somewhat acerbic complaints about NBC (“America’s left coast forced to watch Olympic ceremony on SIX HOUR time delay. Disgusting money-grabbing by @NBColympics”).

Consequently Twitter’s heavy-handed response drew the ire of social media users –  though NBC’s Olympics Twitter account, and Twitter itself, appear to be mounting an admirable head-in-the-sand display to the whole affair.

Nevertheless, Twitter apparent censorship to defend a corporate partner is troubling.

The company’s action is an ugly flipside to social media sites’ desperation to align themselves to events of the day, and gain new users; perhaps none more so than Twitter.

Certainly, the social network’s immediacy and reach, not to mention its boast that “never before have fans had such direct access to the Games”, could be seen to nice effect in the Olympic Athletes’ Hub.

But it was a non-sporting British celebrity that set Twitter alight when his live-tweet from the opening ceremony stage garnered almost 10,000 retweets.

And the downside to the public’s increasingly heavy, and mobile-enabled, use of social media?

When tweeting spectators apparently disrupted BBC coverage, moving the Olympic Broadcasting Service’s communications director Mark Adams to, somewhat wishfully, comment:

“We don’t want to stop people engaging in this by social media but perhaps they might consider only sending urgent updates.”

UPDATE (1/8/12):

More info: NBC critic’s Twitter account reinstated


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  1. Censura do Twitter põe em jogo sua credibilidade |

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