Remember when we were all outraged that a British journalist found his Twitter account suspended after tweeting the not-entirely-private email address of the man in charge of NBC’s Olympics coverage? That is small change when compared with the latest micro-blogging outrage to come from the increasingly social media controversial 30th Games of the Summer Olympiad, in which the email address, work and home physical address and phone number of an American swim coach were released on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
In this case, it was John Leonard – the American Swim Coaches Association’s executive director – whose personal information was leaked on Sina Weibo by, of all people, the one-time head of Google China, Kaifu Lee. According to CNet, Lee posted Leonard’s information on the site in response to the latter’s suggestion that Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen had used drugs to enhance her performance at the games.
Earlier this week, Leonard said that Shiwen’s performance was “impossible” and “unbelievable,” adding “I use that word in its precise meaning.” “The one thing I will say is that history in our sport will tell you that every time we see something, and I will put quotation marks around this, ‘unbelievable’, history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved,” he continued, although he then backtracked by saying that “we want to be very careful about calling it doping.”
After FINA, the swimming governing body, defended Shiwen with a statement that clearly stated that she “has fulfilled all of the FINA doping control obligations, having been tested on four occasions in the last 12 months, including twice before the Chinese Olympic trials in 2012,” Lee took to the social network to demand an apology… and maybe offer a little incentive to ensure that Leonard listened to the demand.
“All the official organizations have now confirmed Ye Shiwen was clean,” he wrote on Sina Weibo. “John Leonard should apologize. Below are his background and contact details. If you want to contact him, I suggest using civilized and factual approach.” Lee has since apologized for the message, telling Pando Daily that “I read John Leonard’s unfair accusations about Ye Shiwen and felt outraged. So I found his public contact information, and sent him an e-mail message asking him to apologize. Then, I wrote a Weibo post, asking other netizens to send fact-based and civilized e-mails to him as well. I also attached his other contact information in this post.”
Quite why he thought that Leonard’s home address was a good idea to include remains a mystery, but to be fair, so does the question of why Leonard’s home address is apparently so easily available to find… and also what, exactly, is making everyone so eager to use social media to bully people into apologizing for things during this year’s games. Clearly, we’re just working up to somebody’s tax returns, social security number or national equivalent and DNA sequence turning up on Facebook that day after they beat out the favorite for a particular event to win the Gold Medal.