Twitter behind UK journo’s suspension over Olympic complaint [update]

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US broadcaster NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games has been controversial enough to cause a social uproar all of its own. Then UK journalist Guy Adams, was suspended from Twitter after tweeting the email address of an NBC executive.

If that incident fanned the flames, then the revelation that Twitter was actually behind the suspension could result in an all out blaze.

According to The Telegraph, representatives from Twitter had actually emailed NBC executives, alerting them to the tweet.

“Our social media dept was actually alerted to it by Twitter and then we filled out the form and submitted it,” said the broadcaster’s Christopher McCloskey.

This is where things start to get really sticky. If Twitter had acted on its own accord (and did so consistently), it could’ve played the incident off as part of its bid to protect users from cyberbullying. As The Next Web notes however, people send email addresses across the social network all the time, with zero recrimination.

If it had suspended Adams at the behest of NBC, it could have been a simple lapse in judgement. An understandable one, given the partnership between Twitter and NBC for the duration of the game, but a lapse nonetheless.

As it is, it looks like Twitter is rushing to cover the arse of one of the US’ most powerful broadcasters. Since when was that its job?

In an article published by UK newspaper The Independent, Adams says he’s completely baffled by revelations that Twitter was behind his suspension:

The site claims I broke its rules because I included Zenkel’s work email address in a Tweet posted on Friday, when America had been forced to watch the opening ceremony on time-delay.

Plenty of people disagree that I broke said rules. And many have also pointed out that Twitter’s actions seem a bit rum… because the popular, but currently-not-very-lucrative site just so happens to be in a commercial relationship with NBC.

He adds that he’d be “fascinated to hear how Twitter explain or justify” his suspension, but that in the mean time he’d “quite like to get back on Twitter”.

In a bid to get back onto the social network, Adams had written a letter to Twitter, asking it to restore his access, but pointed out that he didn’t understand how he’d broken the rules.

Evening

And sorry for the radio silence. For obvious reasons, my day has been a wee bit busier than normal.

I would love my Twitter account to be un-suspended.

However you have asked me to “confirm that I have read and understood” your rules.

I’ve read, and I have re-read your rules. Clearly I don’t understand them, though, because I have no idea how I broke them.

You claim that I posted a “private email address.”

I did no such thing. I posted a corporate email address, not a private one.

It was, like the work address of every other NBC Universal account holder, written in a very un-private format: firstname.lastname@nbcuni.com.

Moreover, it was already easily identifiable to anyone in possession of 30 seconds of free time and access to Google. For example, it had been published online over a year ago, at the link below

http://www.fidei.org/2011/06/boycott-nbc-removed-under-god-from.html

You will, I am sure, be aware that your own privacy policy, which you have urged me to read, states that “If information was previously posted or displayed elsewhere on the Internet prior to being put on Twitter, it is not a violation of this policy.”

Mr Zenkel’s email address HAD been posted on the internet prior to being put on Twitter, Therefore can you explain how my Tweet violated your policy? Or are you making this up as you go along?

Moreover, I just received a copy of a written statement from an NBC spokesman called Christopher McCloskey. It was issued via email this evening to Amy Willis, a correspondent at the Daily Telegraph, in answer to her query regarding how NBC’s complaint came to be lodged with Twitter, and how NBC originally became aware of my original Tweet.

Mr McCloskey states (and I quote): “Our social media dept was actually alerted to it by Twitter and then we filled out the form and submitted it.”

Unless he is lying, this means that my account was suspended after Twitter decided, at its own behest, to get in touch with a commercial partner in order to encourage them to have a hostile journalist removed from the Twitter-sphere.

Surely this runs against everything your company is supposed to represent? And surely it completely undermines Twitter’s entire raison d’etre, corporate ethos, etc?

Mr McCloskey’s email to Ms Willia also, helpfully, includes contact details for a Twitter spokesman, Rachael Horwitz. Am I to take it that this means NBC and Twitter’s media departments are in some sort cahoots regarding this whole thing? And if so, does this whole thing not have a whiff of fish?

I don’t know exactly where I’m meant to go from here, except to say that I really would like a proper explanation of how and why my Twitter account has been suspended.

And I’d also quite like to have it un-suspended. Please?

Update:

Adams’ account has been restored, seemingly because NBC changed their mind about the complaint:

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