When is a Twitter scandal not a Twitter scandal?Posted on

@ItsStephRice

The last time Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice (@ItsStephRice) was involved in a Twitter scandal (posting homophobic Tweets aimed at the South African rugby team) it ended in an emotional press conference and her being sacked by sponsor Jaguar.

It seems that Rice is a touch more media savvy now. The MailOnline (following Australian press) this morning ran the story of Rice’s current “scandal”.

Rice, who is a swimmer, posted a picture of herself on Twitter, in a swimsuit. Yes, that’s it. Of course, there’s no scandal there. Except in order to run a story which includes pictures of physically fit people in swimsuits it helps if the sub-editors can call it a scandal. Readers are much more inclined to read the story.

So the MailOnline’s piece (much like those appearing in the Australian press) contained the most strained faux scandal narrative. Under the headlineAustralian swimmer lands in hot water after tweeting picture of herself in revealing bikini (get it? She’s a swimmer you see and she’s in trouble, except she’s not) the Mail explained to us why this was most definitely a scandal.

We are told An Australian Olympic swimmer has been criticised for posing in a bikini deemed ‘too revealing’. Translation – some people on Twitter said some negative things.

critics blasted the sports star for showing off in the costume. Critics? You guessed it, just some people on Twitter.

“Despite the public backlash”. Translation – despite a couple of people criticising her on Twitter.

“There were also claims that by posing in the swimsuit she could have breached a sponsorship contract with Speedo”. Ah, now this sounds more serious.

“A spokesman said ‘She doesn’t have any relationship with Speedo anymore so there are no restrictions there’”. Oh.

Cue the article ending with some copied and pasted narrative about her 2010 homophobic Tweet and fill in with more pictures of attractive people looking attractive and you have a classic tabloid “scandal but not actually a scandal”story.

The one thing this “story” does confirm is (1) the focus on the off-track/field/pitch activities of Olympic athletes will be intense next month and (2) the media will rely heavily on copying and pasting from social media pages in creating stories.

Lets hope swimwear “selfies” (a term apparently meaning a self-portrait posted on social media) is as scandalous as things get for athletes in the village. I fear not.

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