Worldsport

How social will Sochi 2014 be?

Updated 9:21 PM ET, Fri January 24, 2014
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The 2014 Winter Olympics are part of Vladimir Putin's sporting plans to bring Russia global prestige, along with the 2018 World Cup and a Formula One race, also in Sochi. Alexey Maishev/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images
However, Russia's new anti-gay laws have sparked worldwide protests, prompting fears that the Sochi Games will be overshadowed by the issue -- and social media is expected to play a key role in the February 7-23 competition. Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Sochi will be following in the footsteps of the London 2012 Olympics, which was heralded as the "first social media Games." Here sprint star Usain Bolt is seen captured on a spectator's smartphone. ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/GettyImages/file
London 2012 took a big step forward in terms of promotional innovation, such as this projection of swimming legend Michael Phelps on the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/GettyImages/file
However, it also revealed some of the pitfalls of greater exposure on social media. British diver Tom Daley angrily responded on Twitter after being abused by trolls following a disappointing performance. "A key learning point from London 2012 was that attending too closely to every minor social media moment is a mistake," says journalist Andy Miah. Clive Rose/Getty Images/file
British weightlifter Zoe Smith was also taunted online, but fought back against her abusers. "An athlete really needs to focus on their competition and that means cutting out anything that could jeopardize this," says Miah. "This is what they've trained all of their life for and nothing should affect that." Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images/file
The Australian swim team was criticized for under-achieving in London -- Emily Seebohm blamed her overuse of social networking website Twitter for her failure to win gold despite being favorite in the women's 100m backstroke. LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages/file
Russia's anti-gay laws were denounced by American Nick Symmonds after he won silver at the 2013 world athletics championships in Moscow. The 800-meter runner later posted on Twitter a picture of himself with the Russian LGBT sports federation. FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Swedish high-jumper Emma Green Tregaro also showed her solidarity with the gay rights movement by wearing rainbow-colored fingernails and posting the proof on Instagram. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
The tech world has moved relentlessly forward since London 2012, and social media experts such as Miah are hoping innovations such as Google Glass may be trialed at Sochi. However, its video content would not be allowed under the International Olympic Committee's restrictive social media guidelines. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images/file
Sochi will be a big deal for Russia's social media platforms such as VKontakte. Its founder Pavel Durov, pictured, has been described as "Russia's Mark Zuckerberg." Nadine Rupp/Getty Images/file