July 31, 2012

Twitter urged to explain ban on British journalist over NBC Olympic tweets

Twitter is under growing pressure to explain the suspension of a British journalist.
US broadcaster claims Twitter alerted it to Independent journalist Guy Adams' tweets criticising Olympic Games coverage

Twitter is under growing pressure to explain the suspension of a British journalist after it emerged that the social network alerted NBC to his highly critical tweets of the US broadcaster's Olympic coverage.

Guy Adams, the Independent's Los Angeles bureau chief, had his Twitter account suspended after he published the corporate email address of the NBC executive Gary Zenkel, who is responsible for the broadcaster's coverage of the London Olympics.

Adams posted a string of tweets criticising NBC for being "utter bastards" for failing to air the opening ceremony live to viewers on the West coast of the US, who had to watch it on a six hour time delay.

He then took aim at Zenkel, who was appointed president of NBC Olympics in 2005, and published his corporate email address.

Twitter immediately shut down Adams' account and told him it was a violation of the site's rules to post the private and confidential information of others.

One of Adams' critical tweets read: "America's left coast forced to watch Olympic ceremony on SIX HOUR time delay. Disgusting money-grabbing by @NBColympics."

Another said: "I have 1000 channels on my TV. Not one will be showing the Olympics opening ceremony live. Because NBC are utter, utter bastards."

On Tuesday, NBC claimed that Twitter had alerted it to Adams' tweets, not the other way round.

Previously, it was reported that NBC approached Twitter and asked how to have Adams' offending tweet taken down.

Christopher McCloskey, NBC's vice-president of communications, told the Telegraph in an email: "Our social media dept was actually alerted to it by Twitter and then we filled out the form and submitted it".

When contacted by MediaGuardian, McCloskey said that NBC had nothing further to add to its original statement.

NBC said: "We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives. According to Twitter, this is a violation of their privacy policy. Twitter alone levies discipline."

Adams wrote in the Independent on Tuesday that his ban "raises various ethical issues relevant to journalism in the online era".

A spokeswoman for Twitter declined to comment.

The company has previously told the Guardian that it does not actively monitor users' accounts, and added that it was company policy not to comment on individual users.

Twitter has faced criticism for the suspension, with some influential commentators describing it as quick-triggered and raising questions about the social network's relationship with NBC.

Twitter and NBC have partnered during the London 2012 games. The two companies joined forces to show tweets from NBC presenters, Olympics athletes and fans onto a single page on Twitter.com. No money is changing hands with the partnership, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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