Have you seen the ill-advised tweets coming from the Olympians?

Greek Athlete Sets the Tone

First, Paraskevi Papahristou, a Greek triple-jumper, tweeted: (in Greek- translation courtesy of the New York Times) “With so many Africans in Greece, at least the mosquitoes of West Nile will eat homemade food.”

She was expelled from the XXX Games not by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but by the Greek Olympic team.

Then the USA women’s soccer goalie (and former Dancing With the Stars contestant), Hope Solo went on a Twitter-rant before her more than 500,000 followers lambasting the commentary made by NBC Sports analyst Brandi Chastain after Saturday’s soccer game :

Hope Solo ‏@hopesolo 

Lay off commentating about defending and gking until you get more educated @brandichastain the game has changed from a decade ago. #fb


Hope Solo ‏@hopesolo

Its 2 bad we cant have commentators who better represents the team&knows more about the game @brandichastain! #fb


Hope Solo ‏@hopesolo

I feel bad 4 our fans that have 2 push mute, especially bc @arlowhiteis fantastic.@brandichastain should be helping 2 grow the sport #fb

Solo was called into a meeting with her coach to discuss her tweets and, as of now, it looks like her “tweet life” will stay intact. 

USA Women’s Soccer Coach Pia Sundhage reports that their 1:1 went this way:

We had a conversation: If you look at the women's national team, what do you want (people) to see? What do you want them to hear? And that's where we do have a choice -- as players, coaches, staff, the way we respond to certain things." 

And Others Take Her Lead

Then on Monday, Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella, was expelled from the games (by his team) for his racist tweet about the South Koreans that had just beat his team.

According to USA Today, the tweet, translated from French, said that he wanted to beat up South Koreans, that they should "burn" and that they were a "bunch of mongoloids."

Swiss Olympic team chief Gian Gilli says that Morganella was provoked by tweets to his account, but he did not excuse the 23 year old player for his 140 character message; instead he stripped the footballer of his Olympic accreditation.

Learning Opportunities

Now it’s not only the athletes whose tweets might benefit from a posting delay or an “Are you sure you want to tweet that?” warning that says something like THIS TWEET WILL LIVE ON TOPSY AND BE FOREVER ARCHIVED. But you can’t expect Twitter to take such action because they’re having their own Twitter trouble around the Olympics as well.

But It's Not Only the Athletes Who Are Having Twitter-Troubles

British journalist Guy Adams’ Twitter account was suspended (it has since been reinstated) for his rants criticizing NBC’s delayed coverage of the opening ceremonies. (NBC decided to broadcast the Olympics in prime time -- a 5 hour delay -- rather than live.) Adams encouraged his followers to email NBC chief Gary Zenkel to complain.

Guy Adams @guyadams 

The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven't started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think! Email: [email protected]

Adams’ tweet-lips were zipped shut by Twitter shortly thereafter. (Yes, this is the same Twitter that was instrumental in the Arab Spring.) What was Twitter’s problem with Adams’ tweet? Initially they used an excuse that Adams had committed a privacy violation when he shared a third party’s email address in a tweet (but that excuse didn’t gain any traction). Most industry-watchers suspect that Twitter was watching NBC’s back, which doesn’t seem too far-fetched because NBC and Twitter have an Olympics coverage partnership.

In either case, after receiving much criticism, Twitter decided to reconsider. Alex Macgillivray, Twitter's general counsel, delivered a long explanation (courtesy of the LA Times) saying: 

We’ve seen a lot of commentary about whether we should have considered a corporate email address to be private information. There are many individuals who may use their work email address for a variety of personal reasons -- and some may not. Our Trust and Safety team does not have insight into the use of every user’s email address, and we need a policy that we can implement across all of our users in every instance.

That said, we want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up. The team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership did proactively identify a Tweet that was in violation of the Twitter rules and encouraged them to file a support ticket with our Trust and Safety team to report the violation, as has now been reported publicly. Our Trust and Safety team did not know that part of the story and acted on the report as they would any other. 

As I stated earlier, we do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are. This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us. We should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is -- whether a business partner, celebrity or friend. As of earlier today, the account has been unsuspended, and we will actively work to ensure this does not happen again.”

In summary, Twitter is simply admitting that they blew it. At the end of the day, it’s probably fair to say that many of us, including Twitter itself, still need a little social training. Not all streams of consciousness should be articulated or acted upon. 

Look for Big Data and the Olympics tomorrow.

Editor's Note: You might be interested in other articles by Virginia Backaitis

-- Every Social Media Manager Should be Under 25. (Really?)