Top 5 Social Media Moments Of The 2012 Olympics

The 2012 London Olympics will not only be remembered for its spectacular venues and amazing athletic performances, but also for the effect of social media on all aspects of the games. Twitter, Facebook, and other online social media were predicted to explode with content during the Olympics, but no one could have foreseen the direct impact these sources would have.

The following are five of the most significant moments that were directly attributed to the presence of social media during the 2012 Olympic Games:

1.  Greek Olympian Barred from Olympics for Racist Tweet

Greece’s top female triple-jumper, Voula Papachristou, was barred from the Olympics by the Greek Olympic Committee because of what they called: a “tasteless” tweet. Her tweet was posted on July 23, 2012 (right before the start of the games) and said: “With so many Africans in Greece… At least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!!!”

The outcry from Greek social media was immediate and angry. Most of the responders wanted her kicked off the team, including the coalition government partner, Democratic Left. The Greek Olympic Committee responded by expelling Papachristou from the team.

Papachristou did send an apology tweet two days later, but it was too little too late in the eyes of the country – the damage had already been done.

2.  Opening Ceremony Outrage

The London opening ceremonies had a lot to live up to after a spectacular show put on in Beijing. There was so much riding on this that leaders in London felt compelled to give their opinions to the world. The day after the opening, an English political party minister, Aiden Burley, tweeted that the ceremony was “leftie multicultural crap.” Prime Minister David Cameron was asked to comment and he said that it was an “idiotic” thing to say.

A lot of the criticism of the Opening Ceremony was directed at the American broadcast. The hashtag “#NBCfail” became extremely popular after the airing. British journalist Guy Adams was so disappointed in the broadcast of the ceremony that he tweeted out the email address of NBC Olympics president, Gary Zenkel, and encouraged people to email him their complaints.

3.  Twitter Comments Lead to Arrest

The British athletes had more than just the usual Olympic pressure on them. They were performing in front of the home crowd with the reputation of the nation on their shoulders. British diver Tom Daley is one of the best in the world, but during the men’s synchronized 10m platform event he did not have his best day, and the team from Great Britain finished fourth.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, Tom Daley then received a Twitter message saying that he had let down his father. Tom’s father Rob died in May 2011 from brain cancer. The 17-year-old boy who sent this tweet was then arrested on suspicion of malicious communications (think about how full the prisons would be if this law was enforced regularly for Twitter comments).

4.  The Fab Five

Some of the biggest moments on social media were supplied by the American female gymnasts, known as the “Fab Five.” Jordan Wieber was expected to compete for individual gold, but had a disappointing first day. She was able to get past the let down and help them win team gold. After her gold medal in the individual all-around, the whole world was tweeting about Gabby Douglas. Unfortunately, it was not all positive as enough people were tweeting negative comments about her hair that it made national news.

McKayla Maroney was expected to win gold in the vault, but after she fell on her second attempt she had to settle for silver. This did not sit well with the young gymnast and she made disgusted faces during the medal ceremony. A few people got the idea to photoshop the image of Maroney on the medal stand into pictures of famous moments with the caption: “McKayla is not impressed.” If she is a good sport about it, she might be able to combine the popularity of the meme with merchandise and turn a bad situation into a profitable one with the right type of small business shopping cart software.

Surprise star of the team, Aly Raisman, accidentally sent what was supposed to be a private tweet out to all of her followers saying that she was going to a club with the male gymnasts. She quickly deleted it and put out a new tweet about going to bed early, but it was too late.

5.  Lochte’s Mom

The American swim team made a lot of news during the Olympics. Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time, the women showed dominance and a youth movement that should carry over into the next few Olympic Games, and Ryan Lochte came away with five medals. But the story that really took hold in the world of social media was an interview Ryan Lochte’s mom gave where she told the world that her son doesn’t have long relationships, he has “one night stands.” Lochte quickly stated that he was sure his mom meant that he just goes on a lot of first dates, but the Twitter world was already buzzing.

Obviously, social media is still a relatively new phenomenon to the Olympics, but it is definitely here to stay. So if future Olympians take any lesson away from the 2012 London Olympics it should be to remember to re-read all of their tweets and if there is any question they could be taken the wrong way, just hit “delete” and nobody will ever know.

Daniel Brown covers celebrity news and sports from his hometown of Los Angeles, CA.

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