The first casualty of the International Olympic Committee’s militant anti-social media stance has been revealed: Athlon Sports writer Jim Weber.
During this year’s Olympic Games Jim posted a GIF of American gymnast Aly Raisman’s floor routine on Twitter – which he’d spotted on the front page of reddit – which led to him receiving an email from the network.
Within three minutes of receiving this email his Twitter account was suspended. An accompanying email from the IOC asked for him to respond “within 10 minutes” that he would be removing the GIF, which he never got a chance to do.
Despite emailing Twitter Support 10 times asking how long his temporary suspension would last, they eventually emailed back stating that his account has been permanently suspended for violating the platform’s copyright policy.
In a lengthy post on LinkedIn, Jim points to four other locations that you can still access the routine – both in GIF and video format.
In fairness to the IOC, this is a stance that they made abundantly clear in the run-up to Rio 2016. In the competition’s official rules they explicitly state:
the use of Olympic Material transformed into graphic animated formats such as animated GIFs (i.e. GIFV), GFY, WebM, or short video formats such as Vines and others, is expressly prohibited
It’s a stance that seemingly puts the Committee out of odds with how the internet works these days, and more than anything could actually cause fewer people to engage with the event. GIFs in particular have grown in popularity over the past few years and create easily shareable moments that millions of people around the world can interact with.
According to Quartz the rule is meant to protect the broadcasters who have paid billions for exclusive rights to Olympics coverage. But when broadcasters such as NBC don’t actually show routines live – instead delaying coverage until prime times and showing it ‘as live’ – can you blame people for turning to alternate methods of catching up on their country’s success?