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Posted at 09:43 AM ET, 07/25/2012

Olympics 2012: Organizers’ love-hate relationship with Twitter

The British are calling it the first “social media Olympics” -- or at least the first summer Olympics in which social networks are playing a prominent role.  

Twitter, for example, has been highly involved in the hype and coverage surrounding London 2012. A team of linguistic analysts will scan Olympics-related tweets for levels of positive and negative emotion, Mashable reports. A corresponding color (yellow for happy, purple for sad) will be reflected in the lighting of the London Eye Ferris wheel over the river Thames during the games.


British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt snapped a photo last month at the launch of a the Olympic rings displayed on London’s Tower Bridge. (Oli Scarff - GETTY IMAGES)

The microblogging company is also partnering with Olympics sponsor Comcast to create a Twitter Olympic hub, staffed by Twitter associates 20 hours ar day, to aggregate Tweets from the athletes, fans and NBC personalities on one page, the Wall Street Journal reported.

But Olympics organizers are embracing Twitter with caution, simultaneously making it a central communication tool and trying to regulate its use

Twitter has already garnered a number of leaks about the opening ceremony, even though filmmaker and ceremony director Danny Boyle implored journalists to keep it a secret.

“In a move to counteract leaks, organisers emblazoned a Twitter hashtag #savethesurprise on screens inside the Olympic Stadium on Monday, urging people to use that tag to build a buzz before Friday, and participants hoped this would work,” Reuters wrote.

The International Olympic Committee has also come out in support of the athletes’ participation in social media, but only within very specific guidelines.

Already, one Greek Olympian, Voula Papachristou, was expelled from her country’s team for racist tweets that mocked African immigrants.

But the restrictions go further than simple good taste. The Olympic panel has also issued a lengthy rulebook for athletes to follow as they share their 140-character thoughts.

Athletes’ Tweets and other social media posts:
- May not be for “commercial and/or advertising purposes”
- Must conform to “fundamental principles of Olympism as contained in the Olympic charter, be dignified and in good taste, and not contain vulgar or obscene words or images.”
- No “video and/or audio of the events, competitions, or other activities which occur at Olympic Venues.”
- Within the residential portion of the Olympic Village, athletes must get permission before posting images of each other, and “any posting, blog or tweet must be in a first-person, diary-type format only.”
- “Participants...must not use the Olympic Symbol – i.e. the five interlaced rings, which is the property of the IOC – on their postings, blogs or tweets on any social media platforms or on any websites.” They can still use the word “Olympics”... unless it’s in a URL. And of course, they’re encouraged to link back to www.london2012.com

(Mashable has the full list )

This means a recent photo tweeted by U.S. team runner Kerron Clement of him and shot putter Michelle Carter was only kosher if Carter signed off on it first:

Another recent Clement tweet, complaining about London’s congested roads, was also fine, since he abstained from cursing about his predicament:

U.S. medalist Michael Phelps complained that the swim caps no longer have American flags on both sides:

He’s likely in the clear, since the caps also don’t feature the five interlocking rings.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for a recent post by French swimmer Margaux Farrell:

Let the Twitter gaffes begin!

Click here for photos of sports you won’t see in London this summer:

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By  |  09:43 AM ET, 07/25/2012

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