17th maj, 2012

Is news story about Olympic censorship false?

Either google has let me down or a current story in Danish Newspaper Politiken is based on false information. Today Politiken has a story about the Olympic organization in London which wants to ban use of brands during the Olympics. If a brand is not an Olympic sponsor the spectators are not allowed to tweet about these brands or post stuff on Facebook.
I was shocked to say the least when I read that story. It is both stupid and impossible to try and censor peoples use of brand names in their tweets – and not to mention unsanctioned by law.
So I set out to get the original quote from LOCG spokesperson quoted in Politiken. That proved impossible. the quote only exists in Politikken and nowhere else – accessible by Google

I got Robert Sharp  who is also quoted in the article to comment(http://www.robertsharp.co.uk/2012/05/14/quoted-in-politiken/), and he doesn’t know who the LOCG spokesperson is either. He says that he commented on whether it is possible to censor Twitter and not on the quote itself.
The facts are:
In the purchase terms § 19.3.2 there is a text that says:
“The following is an illustrative list of prohibited and restricted behaviour within any Venue: fighting, public drunkenness, smoking, gambling, unauthorised money collection, any activity related to marketing or advertising (including, for the avoidance of doubt individual or group ambush marketing), activity or protest related to unions, political or religious subjects, sale of goods by unauthorised individuals or in unauthorised places (booths, mobile fast food restaurants, refreshment areas, etc), unauthorised Ticket sales, unauthorised transmissions and/or recording through mobile telephones or other instruments (video cameras, tape recorders, etc), entry of unauthorised journalists/reporters with taping or recording equipment and/or video cameras, flash photography, attempting to access restricted areas, requesting money or other goods without authorisation (for example, musicians or singers at the entrance or in the Venue, charity collectors, beggars), standing on Ticketed seats, interfering with the operation of a Session (including, for certain Sessions, the use of mobile telephones), disturbing other Ticket Holders’ enjoyment of a Session, disrupting the comfort or safety of other Ticket Holders and any other activity that LOCOG deems dangerous or inappropriate.”

That is hardly basis for a story like the one brought in Politiken. There is a previous story from January(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16426840) where volunteers are prohibited from tweeting about where they are and what is going on. So far I have not been able to find a source for this story.

This is an example of how one feather becomes five hens.



I do apologise for the confusion on a couple of counts. When I spoke to the journalist (Lone Theils) we discussed the LOCOG policies. First, their bid to stop ‘ambush marketing’ on Twitter (this has been well reported) second, their restrictions on publishing photos and videos from inside the Olympic sites (this was put to me by the reporter, and LOCOG have since confirmed to me that it is true); and third, their policies restricting the social media output of stewards, volunteers, etcetera, which was previously reported (and I link to above). My quotes were in response to these elements, and are fairly quoted in the article.

Will LOCOG actually ban tweets of civilians during the games? At the start of the article, the reporter makes this conjecture, inventing the most innocuous tweet that could nevertheless fall foul of what she understands to be the rules. My Danish is rusty, but when Lone writes:

Måske ikke ligefrem en Twitterpost, der glimter af originalitet. Men den vil formentlig påkalde sig den olympiske komites opmærksomhed og vrede.

… she uses “formentlig” (“probably”) which to my mind conveys that this is conjecture, an argument reducto ad absurdum.

It is clearly an extreme example, but then again LOCOG have not made clear to either Lone Theils or myself the methods they will use to marshall ‘ambush marketing’. When an organisation accountable to the public leaves a gap in their communications like this, a reporter is bound to fill this vaccuum by assuming the worst! I think that it is her prerogative to do so.

Finally, I said in my previous comment that I did not know who Ceri was, but that was a spur-of-the-moment mistake. I’ve just checked back on my correspondence with LOCOG and Ceri is the Press Officer for LOCOG! Her contact details are here, and I’m sure she can verify her comments in the article, and also clarify their policy on tweeting.

So I don’t think your headline, asking if the news story is false, is correct, and the point about one feather becoming five hens is perhaps unfair. There are definitely “hens” in this story. I will be pursuing LOCOG further.

Thanks for commenting Robert. It is always nice to have insights from experts.

I am aware that my headline is “stretching it” but so is the article in Politiken in my opinion. To bas an article on vague assumptions is tabloid journalism and not the usual style of Politiken.

However I found an article in the Guardian from the day before Politikken brought its story. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/apr/13/olympics-2012-branding-police-sponsors
That could be a source of inspiration.
But according to that article LOCOG says that “its approach will be “pragmatic” and “amicable” where possible” and ” images “can only be used for private purposes”. These quotes cannot be a base for a story like the one run in Politiken.

Therefore I still believe that this story is out of proportion. However the Guardian article does show that the amount of hens may be smaller than five.

Thanks for the contact detalis for LOCOG ill try and make them comment.

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