When you embrace social media as much as the London Games have, you’ve got to accept that there’ll be the odd disaster here and there. Even the most pessimistic organiser wouldn’t have predicted the number of disasters there have been so far.
The latest incident saw former Google China chief and web celebrity Kai-Fu Lee sharing the personal details of Team USA swimming coach John Leonard to his 15-million Sina Weibo followers.
Lee apparently shared the coach’s details after Leonard called 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen’s record-breaking performance in the 400 metre individual medley “impossible”.
Lee initially defended his actions, saying that the information was in the in the public record. The post has subsequently been deleted but, according to The Next Web, only after it was reposted 14 000 times and received around 4 800 comments.
Lee has issued a statement to Pando Daily apologising for his actions.
This morning, I read John Leonard’s unfair accusations about Ye Shiwen and felt outraged. So I found his public contact information, and sent him an email message asking him to apologize. Then, I wrote a Weibo post, asking other netizens to send fact-based and civilized emails to him as well. I also attached his other contact information in this post.
I apologize for the inappropriateness of my actions, and any inconveniences this may have caused John. At the same time, I sincerely hope that John would also consider an apology to Ye Shiwen.
People have been critical of Lee’s action, with independent analyst Bill Bishop, calling them appalling:
Leonard is way out of line with his comments about Ye Shiwen, but what ex google china head Kaifu Lee just did is appalling
— Bill Bishop (@niubi) August 2, 2012
Twitter user Ryan Ferguson noted that he’d seen death threats against Leonard in some of the comments on Lee’s Weibo post:
@niubi I saw many comments urging others to bombard his email, hack his computer & at least 1 comment saying he should be killed.
— Fergus Ryan (@fryan) August 2, 2012
This is, of course, not the first time that posting someone’s personal details on a social network has caused a headache at this year’s games. Earlier this week, UK journalist Guy Adams was briefly suspended from Twitter after posting the email address of an executive at US broadcaster NBC.
The social network later overturned the ban, apologising for its actions, but drew criticism for proactively informing NBC about the Tweet.
Sina Weibo image: Tech in Asia