Olympics + Samsung = #Unity or #Censorship?

To follow-up on some of the recent Olympics related blog posts, I'd like to direct your attention to an ad from Samsung, one of the sponsors of the 2016 Olympic. You may have seen it already, perhaps in an abbreviated, edited-for-TV version. Here's the full version:

Known as "The Anthem", it shows people around the world singing each other's national anthems, particularly the lines that emphasize unity, humanity and progress. "One World One Anthem" it says, before wrapping up with by pointing out that Samsung is a

Proud sponsor of a world without borders.

...followed by a photo of the new flagship Samsung Galaxy S7 edge smartphone and the hashtag #DoWhatYouCant.

I was struck a little by the potential incongruity here. For one, as John Oliver of HBO's LastWeekTonight pointed out, the Olympics has little to do with unity or equality. It's about individual achievement in a contest to prove who ought to be elevated above everyone else. (Link to YouTube video, some NSFW language possible). And since we organize the whole thing according to country, it often becomes a nationalist exercise in medal counting to prove "we" are better than "them". Not unification.

But from an STV point of view, it struck me as dubious that we should connect world unity or a borderless world to smartphones (are they even computers?) or the internet.

There are plenty of countries around the world with astounding records of success at the Olympics and are also known for also restrictive online access or internet censorship. The most obvious candidate is China (currently over 50 medals) and its state-controlled version of the internet. The so-called Great Firewall of China is a pretty tight border. More tellingly, South Korea (home of Samsung, currently 14 medals) is not exactly a free-for-all online. According to the OpenNet Initiative:

Despite the fact that South Korea has one of the most advanced information communication technology sectors in the world, online expression remains under the strict legal and technological control of the central government.

And just last year, Samsung and Google were accused of banning LGBT social networking apps from Samsung's Android smartphones in South Korea.

Which kinda puts new meaning on that hashtag #DoWhatYouCant.

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