In an age where social media has become second nature for many people, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Vine and Instagram have all taken on a life of their own. So, imagine the discontent expressed when reports surfaced that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would ban journalists from posting photos to social media during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
First reports, like this one from BuzzFeed, quoted the IOC saying that journalists' social media use would be “considered a serious violation and lead to their accreditation being canceled.” IOC spokesman Mark Adams later sang a different tune, telling USA Today's sports blog, For the Win, that social media would be not only allowed, but encouraged.
But the damage was already done. People took to Twitter and Facebook crying foul. No Twitter, Vine or Instagram during the Olympics? Social media fans just weren’t having it.
People crave interaction with one another. That’s the beauty of social media. Citizen journalism and instant communication across continents connect us to a global community. Thanks to social media, we can get a “behind the scenes” experience from events around the world in real-time.
Even if you could implement a social media ban at the Olympics, should you? How would you enforce it? Would such a ban have greater implications beyond just the Winter Olympics? With hundreds of thousands of people set to descend on Sochi next month, banning a virtual phenomenon that has shaped global policy, toppled governments and played a role in some of the most historic events in the last decade seems next to impossible.
Personally, I think the IOC acted in haste without considering the backlash of a social media ban. It is clear that the IOC and Russian government will be monitoring social media activity very closely during the Olympics. But, at the end of the day, it’s going to be business as usual in Sochi.