Hostile social media against Olympic gold medallist. © Getty Images

Once again, social media has been the stage for abusive criticism from individuals, many of them anonymous, using platforms to vent their anger. This time, the target was South Korean figure skater Lin Xiaojun.

The South Korean Olympic gold medallist, currently competing for China, has condemned the "vicious" online abuse he has received in recent days for a poor performance, according to the AFP news agency.

The short-track speed skater, a former Olympic and world champion, said he was "very angry" and "deeply hurt" after receiving online abuse following a collision with a Chinese teammate during a race last weekend in the capital of the People's Republic of China.

China's Lin Xiaojun and Netherlands' Jens van 'T Wout, this December in Beijing. © Getty Images
China's Lin Xiaojun and Netherlands' Jens van 'T Wout, this December in Beijing. © Getty Images

Lin Xiaojun and Liu Shaoang were leading when they collided during the men's 500m final at the Beijing World Cup. Lin, who won the gold medal in the 1500m at the XXIII Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang 2018 in South Korea and is a multiple world champion, stated that he was the target of online abuse.

"In recent days, I have seen that some social media accounts often post very hostile or even malicious comments," Lin wrote on Weibo, a social media platform similar to X that is allowed in China.

"These comments not only hurt my teammates, coaches, and other staff but also deeply hurt me deeply and seriously affected our training and life." Lin, who was formerly known as Lim Hyo-jun before moving to China, added: "These insults make me very angry and sad, and I strongly disapprove of such behaviour."

Beyond freedom of expression, which must always be guaranteed and defended as a fundamental human right, the question arises: Is there a limit to what people can write on social media? Should there be one? Many people use these platforms to vent their daily frustrations, which is unacceptable, especially when it comes to disrespecting others. Beyond guaranteeing absolute freedom of expression, one can and should condemn such actions, which are often carried out anonymously or under false pseudonyms.