Sochi Olympics 2014: Journalists Banned from Social Media


Are Russian officials expecting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi to spiral out of control? Their latest move indicates so.

Buzzfeed reported on Monday that Russia has banned journalists from taking photos or videos with non-professional devices, e.g. phones, tablets, and pocket cameras, while at Olympic events. Only journalists with professional equipment and special badges are allowed to use multimedia devices of any kind.

That means no real-time tweeting, no posting pictures to Insta, no selfies, and absolutely no Vine videos. According to Russian news website Svoboda, the ban includes all mobile devices and tablets, including iPhones and iPads. In addition, fans may be barred from bringing in professional camera gear of their own.

Vasily Konov, the head of the Russian state-run R-Sport News that controls the accreditation of journalists for the upcoming games, told a group at a sports journalism seminar, "Journalists using mobile phones to film athletes or spectators will be considered a serious violation and will result in cancellation of accreditation."

Several journalists have already had their credentials revoked, including multiple independent Dutch journalists and a Norwegian film crew.

The ban is the latest controversial move by Russia, in what has been a dramatic couple of months leading up to the start of February's Sochi games. Earlier this year, Russia passed legislation making certain public displays of homosexuality illegal, which sparked the boycott of vodka in several U.S. cities.

Does Russia expect mismanagement, or worse, certain brutalities to take place that they don't want journalists or spectators to be able to take pictures of or report in real-time? The current ban certainly raises many other questions concerning the governing of the upcoming games.

I expect a number of journalists to really stick it to Putin and #doitforthevine.