Gabby Douglas, a three-time Olympic medalist, competed in the 2012 Beijing and the 2016 Rio Olympics and faced cyberbullying and social media criticism both times. To combat cyberbullying and harassment, she became the first Change Ambassador for Hack Harassment, which is an initiative aimed at taking “a stand against online harassment.”
Douglas faced criticism during the 2012 Olympics for her hair. She wore her hair in a ponytail, like her teammates, so many people believed that this was because of her race. Then, she faced criticism in the 2016 Olympics for not being a supportive teammate and for not being patriotic. She placed third in the qualifiers for the all-around medal, but the limit of two athletes per country that barred her from defending her title. The hashtag #CrabbyGabby spread, implying that she was jealous of her teammates. In addition, people on the Internet criticized Douglas for not placing her hand over her heart, as her teammates did, during the National Anthem. One Twitter user called her a “sorry American.”
Following the harassment Douglas faced during her time competing in the Olympics, she decided that she would do something to about it. After partnering with Hack Harassment, she has been touring the country for the past month. She also became the organization’s first Change Ambassador. She will be a spokesperson and will travel to colleges and high schools to campaign to stop bullying on the Internet. Douglas is encouraging everyone to take the pledge to stop being mean online, and she is encouraging parents to set a good example for their children.
Gabby Douglas is using her position as an Olympic champion to make a difference in the online community.