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Social Media Olympics Becoming Social Media Headache

Social Media Olympics Becoming Social Media Headache

Today in international tech news: London claims that the 2012 games are the first-ever "social media Olympics," but that boast has come with headaches. Elsewhere, investors appear to have taken note of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's rapid growth; Palestine is becoming a tech hub; more.

By David Vranicar
07/31/12 9:10 AM PT

London 2012 billed itself as the "first social media Olympics," but that hasn't necessarily been a good thing so far.

A Los Angeles-based correspondent for the UK newspaper The Independent was banned from Twitter for publishing the email address of Gary Zenkel, who is in charge of NBC's Olympic coverage, according to the paper.

The British correspondent, Guy Adams, took to Twitter to decry NBC's decision to run the Opening Ceremony on a tape delay. The ceremony started at 4 p.m. Eastern in the U.S., but was not aired on NBC until 7 p.m. Eastern. West Coast viewers had to wait even longer.

Adams deemed this a money-grab, so he tweeted Zenkel's email address and implored people to write in.

As Adams explained in The Independent, his Twitter account was subsequently blocked by Twitter. NBC acknowledged filing a complaint with Twitter, but it stressed that Twitter alone doles out punishment.

Adams contended in his Independent article that Zenkel's email address was easily accessible to anyone via Google. However, SearchEngineLand.com tested that theory and said it wasn't valid.

Unsportsmanlike Tweeting

A 17-year-old in the UK was arrested for sending malicious tweets to British diver Tom Daley, according to the BBC. The tweet said that Daley, 18, had let down his father after finishing fourth in the 10 meter synchronized diving event. Daley's father died earlier this year.

Also, a Swiss soccer player was expelled for allegedly posting racist tweets, according to The Guardian.

Investors Pouring Money Into China's Alibaba

Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce website, is on the verge of finishing an US$8 billion round of financing, according to The New York Times.

The Times juxtaposes Alibaba's coffers -- the company has up to $43 billion in equity -- with many American Internet companies that are trying to lure investors.

Alibaba, which is similar to eBay, had more than $1.8 billion in revenue in the first half of this year. That's up more than 60 percent from the same period in 2011, according to the Times.

Alibaba will use its new dough to buy back half of Yahoo's stake in the company. Yahoo invested $1 billion in Alibaba in 2005, good for a 40 percent stake in the company. Anymore, that 40 percent stake makes up more than 50 percent of Yahoo's $20 billion value.

Palestine a Hotbed for Startups

The Guardian ran a feature Tuesday about how Palestine is emerging, improbably, as a breeding ground for tech startups.

An estimated 2,500 Palestinians work in IT, including telecommunication development and manufacturing equipment. Citing a report from U.S.-based multinational Cisco, The Guardian says that Palestine's IT sector grew from 0.8 percent of GDP in 2008 to 5 percent in 2010 -- and is still growing.

That growth was aided by nearly $80 million in foreign investments over the past three years, including a large 2009 investment from Cisco, which said Palestine could become a "high-tech global hotspot."

Civilian Wiretapping Huge in China

Civilian wiretapping is widespread in China thanks to an easy-to-use application, according to WantChinaTimes.com (translated from state-run China New Service).

The application, X-Turncoat, was banned in 2006, but it has nonetheless been installed on 1 million mobile phones since then, according to the article.

Eavesdroppers reportedly sell information -- for good money -- to con artists and advertising companies that nail the phone with spam.

Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. You can email him at david.vranicar@newsroom.ectnews.com.

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