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Social network ban for Olympic Games volunteers


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Social MediaAs individuals, we are not that interesting, a fact that has been reiterated thanks to the over-rated revolution that is social media. Sites like facebook and twitter encourage us to divulge mundane details of our lives to whoever is bored enough to take time out of their day to read it (we are all guilty of this).

But every once in a while, something news worthy happens in our lives, something that people actually care about reading, of course this is when the powers that be intervene and ban us from self expression.

The decision made by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog) to ban the 70,000 volunteers aka ‘Game Makers’ from talking about the Games in anyway shape or form on their social networking sites seems slightly cruel.

No, engaging in nonsensical discourse on social networking sites isn’t our God-given right, but banning people who have sacrificed a huge chunk of their summer to be part of an historic event seemed a little extreme, like China extreme. In stark contrast, athletes are being encouraged to tweet under the trend ‘Twitter Games’.

Okay so athletes can tweet but volunteers can’t, because athletes will be more responsible on their twitter sites, right?

It was reported only a few days ago that Australian swimmers Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk have been issued with a social media ban and will be sent home early from the Olympics as punishment for posting pictures of themselves toting firearms on Twitter and Facebook.

These are the kind of guys that the elite and prestigious Locog have deemed responsible enough to represent our London 2012 Games online. Athletes who tweet before they think in favour of hardworking citizens who respect the Games so much that they are willing to sacrifice a pay check in order to ensure that the Games are a success.

Over 240,000 people applied to volunteer at the Olympic Games. Research into applications indicated that 40% of all applicants to date said that London 2012 inspired them to volunteer for the first time. 

Locog worked through all the applications in search of ‘the best of the best’ as they claimed. They said that they were looking for people who were ‘dedicated and passionate’ and ‘committed to going beyond their personal best’ to ensure that the London 2012 Games are the best they can be.

Applicants went through rigorous screening processes including interviews so that Locog could determine who ‘the best of the best’ was. Furthermore, the 70,000 Game Makers who made the cut had to go through mandatory training sessions to ensure that the Games will be ‘the best they can be’.

Athletes on the other hand clearly didn’t go through such screenings by Locog, in fact if D'Arcy and Monks' backgrounds were checked, their tweeting privileges would have been taken the moment they were picked to be on the Olympic team.

In 2008, D'Arcy was kicked off the Australian Olympic team after punching former swimmer Simon Cowley at a bar, causing severe facial injuries.

Last year, Monk told police he was the victim of a hit and run accident only to confess later that he had suffered his injuries, including a broken arm, when he fell off his skateboard.

These are the people who were supposed to represent the Games positively on social networking sites?

Then there’s twitter addict Black Eyed Peas front man, who famously was photographed tweeting whilst carrying the Olympic torch. Instead of sharing the probably once-in-a-lifetime moment of carrying that famous torch with the thousands that had gathered to watch and celebrate, he decided to share that moment with the internet thus ruining the moment for everyone. What did Locog do about this?

I understand that there are security risks that could arise from Game Makers tweeting certain back stage details of the Games, but surely setting some kind of guideline as to what Game Makers can tweet is more reasonable that an outright ban.

Seeing as the athletes have been set guidelines, why haven’t the Game Makers (aka the backbone of the entire Olympic Games) been given a similar guideline?

The back stage stories that the Game Makers will have will surely help enhance the success of the Games, not damage it.

It seems that Locog are missing out on an opportunity to give the Olympic audience an authentic and never before done back stage access to the Games that will be remembered and probably mirrored in the years to come. This is the kind of access that can surely only boost ratings and worldwide media coverage.

Calling the ban a violation of human rights would be an exaggeration, but the ban is a violation on human impulse to express themselves -and that is just as unjust.

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