Russia Bans Journalists From Using Social Media at Sochi Winter Olympics

No Tweeting, Vining, Instagramming or Facebooking for journalists. That's the order from Russia for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, where reporters will be banned from using their personal phones to record the games in realtime. The announcement, which came during a journalists' training session in Sochi on Friday, also informed reporters that if the rule was broken, it would be considered a "serious violation." The penalty? Loss of professional accreditation — aka no more Olympics attendance for them.

If journalists want to document the games, they can do so using proper equipment, top Russian sports journalist Vasilly Konov said during a training session for the games' journalists. Photographers are allowed real SLRs and "professional" equipment. 

The London Olympics actually also had similar guidelines, as the Atlantic Wire points out. However, reporters there were still allowed to use social media for "bona fide reporting purposes," and the rule wasn't widely enforced (British police are far too polite to interrupt mid-Tweet).

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The Sochi Olympics are contentious enough already, and the International Olympics Committee has done little to help the matter: They've essentially turned a blind eye to Russia's anti-gay "propaganda" laws, which Human Rights Watch calls a "blatant violation" of IOC anti-discrimination policies. The IOC has also issued a reminder of the ban on public demonstrations during the Olympics — which should also prove interesting, considering how many people are angry at Russia's policies. As Bustle reported this summer:

The decree also tightens security around the city; no vehicles can come in and out without express permission, and picketing and marches are expressly banned.
Such a ban is rare for an Olympic event, but Russia has seen a sharp outcry from the West in response to its new law banning “gay propaganda.” Russian vodka was removed from stores in different parts of the United States, and now, activists are calling for a boycott of the country’s Olympics. Though countries internationally are considering their response to the law, none have yet pulled out of the Games. 

Who knows, maybe rogue Instagramming will prove the new form of popular protest. 

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