Twitter has made its mark at London 2012 – but not in the way that organisers had hoped. Prior to the start of the event, organisers and sponsors made a concerted effort to encourage participants and others to engage with social media as a means of giving fans unprecedented access to the Athletes’ Village.
Over the weekend, however, Twitter made a rather less helpful intervention, with a high volume of Tweets managing to disrupt the men’s cycling road race. It has been revealed that the electronic updates and times that broadcasters rely on to cover the event were disturbed by people trying to use the website.
Initially, the BBC, the host broadcaster at the event, tried to absolve itself of any blame by pointing the finger at the Olympic Broadcasting Service. However, the IOC later confirmed that the disruption was the result of Twitter traffic. In fact, such was the level of disruption, the IOC has now taken the unprecedented step of asking reporters and fans to ration the number of Tweets they send. They should, the IOC said, only send updates if they are necessary.
Speaking to the Guardian, IOC communications director Mark Adams insisted that he did not wish to dampen enthusiasm for the Games, but merely ensure that it proceeded without too many hitches. "We don't want to stop people engaging in this by social media, but perhaps they might consider only sending urgent updates," he said.
"Of course, if you want to send something, we are not going to say 'Don't, you can't do it', and we would certainly never prevent people," Mr Adams added. "It's just - if it's not an urgent, urgent one, please kind of take it easy."