Banning Journalists From Using Social Media?

According to a Huffington Post article, print journalists are banned from using social media at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Any journalist at the Olympics who is caught using technology (such as a smartphone or camera) for social media purposes (like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) will lose his or her accreditation as a journalist and be kicked out of the Olympics.

This raises the question of what the Olympics will be without live Tweets (including Twitter photos and Twitter videos) about the events? How will people who cannot watch the games live get their information in real-time?

When the 2012 Summer Olympic Games were happening in London, I personally had other obligations that prevented me from watching the events in real-time. However, I was able to see updates on the winners and losers with a quick check of my Twitter. This way, I could still see the results of the events as they happened without tuning in to a television. Russia's ban on social media prevents journalists from live Tweeting the results. Does this mean that we'll have to wait a long time to find out the results of the events? Probably not. I'm sure news organizations will be able to get results up quickly without using social media, but Tweeting out results is probably a lot simpler and easier.

How will journalists handle this, though? Will they obey the rule? Or will news organizations boycott covering the Olympic Games because they cannot use social media?

Also, isn't Russia's surveillance technology an invasion of privacy? I personally don't think Russia's Federal Security Service should be allowed to get away with monitoring email, phone and social media communication. If individual spectators are going to be allowed to use social media to Tweet, Facebook and Instagram the Olympics, why is it such a big deal for Russia to monitor and ban journalists? Individual spectators will most likely live-Tweet the events and results. So if the information is going to get out there in one way or another (either by spectators or by credited journalists), wouldn't Russia prefer the information to come from credible, reliable journalistic organizations?


Fatimah Waseem said...

I doubt Russia will be able to enforce this rule and I wouldn't be surprised if the official's comments are clarified to reflect no such restrictions.

Once the cat is out of the bag, I think there is little any government can do to stem the flow of information, especially when the line between a citizen journalist and a profession journalists blurs and when a globally important event is in question.

Chris Harvey said...

The IOC has clarified the social media restriction, which is apparently just for video: More on social media and Olympics, from USA Today.

Natalie Tomlin said...


This article poses the most important questions that journalists need to consider in the digital age. How do journalists do more than just acquaint themselves in the world of social media and really learn to use it? What is journalism's role in making sure information is verified? How do journalists handle their personal engagement in social media networks?


This is another piece that examines how social media has played an integral role in journalism's evolution. It also discusses social media's influence on "citizen-journalism" and the drawbacks and benefits of this interactive community contributing to news.

Chloe Leshner said...

I agree with you in that if the average person is able to tweet out results, so should a journalist. I think that Russia is doing a disservice to the people that get into the spirit of the Olympics. The way in which the journalism field works now depends a lot on social media use and I think that it will be very difficult for journalists to do their job while at the Olympics.