Tech Watch: Did Social Media spoil the 2012 Olympics?

Category:  Tech Watch
Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Many Olympic viewers were up in arms over the fact that NBC aired the Olympic coverage during prime time, five hours after the events took place, and long after they had already heard the outcome of the games.

In 2008, the Olympics in Beijing were broadcasted the same way, but social media was not the force that it is known to be today.  Twitter had a mere 3 million users and Facebook was at 100 million users that summer.  Social media has changed in those four years. We now have access to the best spoiler network ever created—and no, I am not talking about TMZ—at our fingertips: Twitter. Using hashtags and the ‘like’ button to show our support for this summer’s games or share our opinions with others in the digital world has never been easier.

Many fans were tempted to check on Facebook or Twitter for updates, like myself. I must admit that since the London Olympics opening ceremony Friday evening, I hadn’t been able to look away. Whether I was checking newsfeeds, following trending topics on Twitter, or watching the primetime coverage, I couldn’t get enough. It’s true; I lost sleep over the past few days because of my fascination for the Olympics. #obsessedmuch?

It’s not only the amazing athleticism or sportsmanship on display that intrigues me, but how the world has become so engaged through social media during the games. The games are now being used to showcase “the world’s first social media light show” as the United Kingdom’s EDF Energy group teamed up with M.I.T. to create the display. Each night the ever-changing barometer, exhibited by lighting the London Eye, showed the mood of Twitter users. Any tweets regarding the Games were being collected and categorized as either positive or negative. At the end of each day the light show begans and the London Eye became a glowing tweet-meter; yellow as positive, green as neutral and purple as unsatisfied Twitter users.

With all of this hype happening across the social media platforms, no wonder the London 2012 Olympics had been nicknamed the first “Social Media Games.” The Olympic athletes joined in on the conversation through Twitter and Facebook, encouraging one another, congratulating each other, and even stirring up a little controversy, as well as live chats with fans through Q and A forums.

During coverage of the Olympic cycling event, there was so much Twitter traffic from spectators that the transmissions of race information being sent to the BBC Commentator, Chris Boardman, were jammed. According to The Guardian, Boardman had to check his own watch to estimate their timing.

As the 2012 games concluded August 12, my attention was on both prime-time coverage and social media, watching not only the thousands of international athletes in London, but also the millions of eyes, and keyboards, worldwide.

The United States and China can step down from the podium. The Internet is the new power player of the Olympic Games.

-Angela Kelly

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