SBD/August 1, 2012/Olympics

Guy Adams' Twitter Account Is Reinstated, NBC And Twitter Release Statements

Adams said Twitter e-mailed him saying NBC's complaint was retracted
The London Independent's Guy Adams had his Twitter account reinstated yesterday and promptly tweeted, "My Twitter account appears to have been un-suspended. Did I miss much while I was away?" (THE DAILY). Adams also posted a story on the INDEPENDENT's website. He wrote, "Even now that my account has been re-activated, all I got was a four-sentence email from Twitter’s ‘Trust and Safety’ department telling me the initial complaint had been retracted. ...  I’d also like to ask how Twitter responds to widespread allegations that its decision to suspend my account was improperly influenced by its relationship with a commercial partner" (INDEPENDENT.co.uk, 7/31). The AP’s Jay Cohen reports Twitter is “acknowledging a mistake in how it handled” the tweet posted by Adams that included the e-mail of the NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel. Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray yesterday in a blog post wrote that the “company's team working with NBC for their Olympic partnership ‘proactively’ identified the tweet it said was in violation of its rules and encouraged the network to report it.” Macgillivray: “This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us.” NBC Sports also issued a statement, saying that it wanted “to protect its executive, not get Adams suspended from Twitter.” The statement read in part, "We didn't initially understand the repercussions of our complaint, but now that we do, we have rescinded it” (AP, 8/1).

ADMITTING WRONGDOING: In N.Y., Christine Haughney wrote “both Twitter and NBC backpedaled” yesterday. Twitter Media Partnerships Dir Chloe Sladden “personally apologized on her Twitter feed for ‘the oversight,’” but the initial suspension “already put both companies out of favor with many Twitter faithful.” Analytic and research company Topsy, which tracks Twitter activity, found that over the last 24-hour period, there were “more than 32,000 mentions of #NBCFail and more than 14,000 mentions of @guyadams.” Adams said that he had about “4,500 followers before he was kicked off Twitter.” He had “16,300 followers” last night when his account was reinstated (NYTIMES.com, 7/31). The GUARDIAN’s Katie Rogers wrote the incident has not done Adams "much harm,” as he has returned to Twitter "with tens of thousands of new followers.” Meanwhile, both organizations “sought to extricate themselves from the mess with as much dignity as possible.” Twitter acknowledged it had “flunked the situation by actively reporting the offending tweet to NBC, with which it had been working in partnership for the Olympics.” Rogers wrote, “In the end, NBC’s big hopes for ‘enormous contribution’ to the Olympics conversation out of a partnership with Twitter came true. The problem -- and a rookie mistake, really -- was their joined hope to control it” (GUARDIAN, 8/1).

LOSING THE PUBLIC'S TRUST? The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Waters & Steel note Twitter has “admitted that a commercial relationship with NBC played a central part in its censorship," and that disclosure "brought a torrent of critical tweets on Tuesday, making the case a prominent test of Twitter’s ability to build a profitable business without undermining its self-declared status as one of the web’s most open platforms for self-expression” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/1). In London, Alistair Dawber writes Twitter “has been caught up in a storm of its own making.” The blog Technically Incorrect notes sources at Twitter "suggest that because such a senior NBC executive complained, a little tension has blossomed in the two companies’ commercial partnership” (London INDEPENDENT, 8/1). The GUARDIAN’s John Kampfner asks, “Why did Twitter freeze the account of the journalist Guy Adams, and not those of assorted cranks and screamers who inhabit the space every day?” The argument “is laughable, suggesting that Twitter has moved into the corporate camp, where favours to clients matter more than the openness of the forum” (GUARDIAN, 8/1). In S.F., James Temple wrote, “Let’s be perfectly clear: Twitter suspended a user for committing an act of journalism. The mind-boggling move undermines the San Francisco’s startup’s credibility as a supposed advocate of open communications.” Twitter’s actions raise “troubling questions about how readily the company will trade what had been a leadership stance on free speech for commercial interests” (SFGATE.com, 7/31). MARKETWATCH's Therese Poletti noted Twitter after its apology yesterday "appears to be doing the right thing," but the "actions of its own staffers will now be debated and are likely to hang over the company’s chirpy little bird like a dark cloud" (MARKETWATCH.com, 7/31).
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