One of the most important – and complex – developments regarding media and the Olympics has undoubtedly been the integration of the Internet in the diffusion of information, images, and analyses. Of particular note this year has been the place of Twitter in this evolving landscape. Greek and Swiss athletes have been dismissed from the 2012 London Olympics because of Twitter posts, while a journalist has had his Twitter account blocked because of his repeated criticism of NBC, which has had its own negative impact on Twitter (among other stories). And here is an article by legal journalist Trevor Timm on free speech issues generated by all this Twitter activity.
Currently, educators are capitalizing on the communicative possibilities of social media for their uses in the classroom, while they also wrestle with the challenges posed by the use of these types of Internet platforms in schools. It is clear that the critical thinking skills that are at the core of media literacy education have become more vital than ever. An earlier event from this summer demonstrated this clearly to me. In France, a Twitter trending topic generated a rather humorous response from French comic Elie Semoun (who had already developed a rather thorny, and not funny, history with Twitter): “I confirm my death,” he responded from his Twitter account after the “story” of his death became a “news item” for a number of hours, having been stirred up by a flurry of Twitter posts. This has happened to other celebrities, such as Paul McCartney, but this response by the “dead man” was particularly original. All it required was a small dose of media literacy skills to figure out this was not news and certainly not reliable – and, as it turns, out, not true. The importance of our abilities in analyzing, evaluating, and properly using media resources has been one of the key lessons of this Twitter-filled summer.