Journalists and reporters have received mixed messages from the Russian authorities and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on whether or not they will be allowed to use social media on their phones at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Vasily Konov, head of Russian R-Sport news agency, first shared the unfortunate news. Any Olympic-related photographs on social media must be obtained using professional equipment and only by those using proper accreditation. If journalists are seen using their smartphones to capture and share the action, they will be stripped of their accreditation.
The IOC disregarded Konov’s message, and spokesman Mark Adams told USA Today that social media would be welcomed at the games.
“Accredited media may freely utilize social media platforms or websites for bona fide reporting purposes. Photos taken by accredited photographers may be published for editorial purposes on social media platforms or websites in accordance with the Photographers Undertaking,” said Adams.
Videos, however, have been and will continue to be banned, which means no Vine or Instagram videos.
If the rumors are true that journalists are banned from using social media, then it is safe to assume that spectators will face similar restrictions. Although spectators will most likely be allowed to carry their smartphones and tablets around, all images of the Winter Olympics are technically owned by the IOC. Posting the Olympic symbol (the five interlaced rings) for consumer use is not allowed, which means no one should be tweeting pictures of it. Using the word “Olympic” and any Olympic-related words comes with strict rules and high consequences.
This is a big step back in time for a popular event to be without social media. Fans will have to turn to the Olympics’ official website for “close, but not quite real-time” updates.
Social media has become a crucial part of the lives of individuals, as well as companies. It is where a person can seek information and get immediate answers. Social media has reinvented the way consumers receive news as it is happening, including the results of the Olympic games.
Only time will tell if the lack of social media at the 2014 Olympics has a significant impact, but right now it seems like that is a pretty safe bet to make.
By Ali Seys
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.