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Twitter's Role In the Olympics Ticket Fiasco

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It's like a flash sale - red and yellow lights sporadically blink on your screen. You're bursting with anticipation as sweat oozes from the palms of your hands all whilst sitting awkwardly on the edge of your seat. Seeing the words "No tickets found" in bright orange is a sudden moment of despair. For die-hard sporting fans, or enthusiasts of any international sporting event such as the Olympics, the reality of securing tickets is an Olympic challenge in itself.

Anyone watching coverage from the past week will have noticed many empty seats from archery to tennis, swimming to beach volleyball- few arenas have been full. Along with concerns from the public and explanations from officials as to why seats were empty, a little gem appeared on popular social networking site Twitter to make light relief of the situation.

The Empty Seat provided much joy to non-ticket holders. It was, quite literally, the thoughts and emotions of an empty and rather lonely seat at one of several Olympic venues. One tweet read: "It was my lifelong ambition to be an Olympic seat. To provide rest and comfort for cheering sports fans. I feel like such a failure." But while the spoof @OlympicSeat account gained over 20,000 followers, LOCOG were, and still are, releasing tickets on a daily basis for Olympic events.

But the process of obtaining these tickets is far from easy. It requires a 100m sprint to any working device to connect to the London 2012 website; hitting a straight ace to grab selected tickets, then after requesting them, a virtual wrestle with some tens of thousands to secure them. The battle is a long and ugly one, lasting up to hours in some instances. This effort alone deserves a gold medal.

Clive Efford, Labour MP for Eltham and Shadow MP for Sport tweeted last Wednesday night: "We had 3 computers bidding for Olympic tickets tonight- all told must wait 15 minutes- took 1hr while site emptied-then no tickets found." Tweets didn't stop there as people took to the social networking site to vent their frustration.

But soon after appeared the 2012 Ticket Alert; a Twitter feed set up by web developer Adam Naisbittto, to make the quest of obtaining tickets for empty seats easier. The site created last Sunday is already boasting more than 45,000 Twitter followers.

It's simple, it sends out tweet alerts as soon as tickets become available on the London 2012 website. Tickets can go within five seconds of the alert being tweeted. But last Friday, Ticketmaster blocked 2012 Ticket Alert from accessing their server. Media coverage from the BBC and the vocal unity of the Twitter army soon made Ticketmaster and LOCOG enable the non-commercial @2012TicketAlert to be back up and running. Already boasting so many success stories, this has been a real liberator for those desperate to witness some Olympic action live and upfront.

So amongst the ticket fiasco, the use of Twitter has been nothing short of a saviour.

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