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Instagram Accidentally Blocked Elaine Thompson-Herah For Posting Her Own Sprint Wins

Elaine Thompson-Herah, of Jamaica, reacts after winning the final of the women's 200-meters at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo.
Elaine Thompson-Herah, of Jamaica, reacts after winning the final of the women's 200-meters at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo.

Facebook says the company mistakenly blocked Jamaican gold medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah from Instagram.

Sprinter Thompson-Herah, the fastest woman in the world, tweeted that she had been blocked from the platform for posting videos of her 100 and 200-meter races, videos that she did not own the rights to.

"So see y'all in 2 days," she wrote.

The videos were removed, but a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, told NPR that Thompson-Herah's suspension was an accident and her access to posting was quickly restored.

The athlete later posted to Instagram Stories that the block had been cleared.

Thompson-Herah's tweet had generated a public outcry on the platform. Messages of support filled her comments, including one from American singer-songwriter Anita Baker.

"Athletes, Artists, Creatives, have rights to their own image & likeness," the singer wrote.

According to the International Olympic Committee's social and digital media guidelines, Olympic athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Games are able to share Olympic Games content on their personal social media accounts, with some restrictions.

The committee told Reuters that the removal of unauthorized content on social media is automatic.

"Rights Holding Broadcasters (RHBs) have the exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympic Games," the IOC said. "This includes distribution on social media, where athletes are invited to share the content provided by the RHBs on their accounts but cannot post competition content natively. Should that occur, the removal of such content from social media platforms happens automatically."

The content in question? One of the videos was of the final 100-meter race that showed why Thompson-Herah is, indeed, "the fastest woman in the world." The defending gold medalist for the race, she ran the second-fastest time in the event's history and broke Florence Griffith Joyner's Olympic record.

Josie Fischels is an intern on NPR's News Desk.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.