Oh. My Twitter account appears to have been un-suspended. Did I miss much while I was away?
— Guy Adams (@guyadams) July 31, 2012
Twitter suspended the NBC Olympics critic, a journalist for the British newspaper The Independent, this weekend based on a complaint from NBC that Adams had tweeted the email address of a network executive. NBC vice president for communications Chris McCloskey said Twitter alerted the network, its partner for the Olympic games, to Adams’ tweets. Soon after the complaint, Adams was suspended.
Adams quotes an email from Twitter today that says, “We have just received an update from the complainant retracting their original request … Therefore your account has been unsuspended.”
An unnamed NBC spokesman gave The Wall Street Journal this explanation today: “Our interest was in protecting our executive, not suspending the user from Twitter. We didn’t initially understand the repercussions of our complaint, but now that we do, we have rescinded it.”
Though tweeting again, Adams remains frustrated by the inability to reach anyone at Twitter to discuss the company’s decision.
They still haven’t fully clarified what happened, which is when we can really start to put this nonsense behind us…
The wall of silence that until last night emanated from the company was almost completely at odds with that in The Independent’s Los Angeles bureau. In the 90 minutes has taken to write this article, I have received almost 200 emails, from either supportive members of the public, or media organisations wanting to discuss the case with me. The telephone has barely stopped ringing.
In a live interview on CNN Tuesday afternoon, Adams said “I feel delighted and relieved,” but “what’s happened here isn’t entirely clear.”
NBC allegedly issued a complaint against me some time over the weekend. Twitter immediately suspended my account, saying I had breached their rules. I don’t think I had breached their rules. I don’t think any reasonable person reading their rules thinks I breached their rules. Twitter hasn’t commented on whether they think I’ve breached their rules or not. They’ve simply unfrozen my account, I think hoping I’ll go on tweeting about my very boring life from now on…
Why was I targeted for suspension when Spike Lee wasn’t? I suspect — I have no way of proving although there are various reasons to suspect — that the reason Twitter took the complaint against me seriously is because they have a commercial relationship with NBC and they wanted to give NBC, if you like, special treatment. I think Twitter needs to clarify whether that did happen…
I’d like to think that Twitter can’t, at the behest of a commercial organization, simply shut down a journalist without warning them, and take them out of circulation for 48 hours. I think it could be precedent setting unless Twitter explains exactly why I was suspended in the first place and what its rules actually are and how they should be applied in the future.
Meanwhile, NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus answers the network’s critics by telling John Ourand he is sticking by the decision to air some popular competitions several hours late to get them before an American prime-time audience:
I think what we’ve proven is that the American viewing public likes the way we tell the story and wants to gather in front of the television with their friends and family — even if they have the ability to watch it live either on television or digitally … I inherently trust that decision is the right one and that people want to see these events.
This is a business. It’s not everyone’s inalienable right to get whatever they want. We are charged with making smart decisions for our company, for our shareholders and to present the product the way we believe is best.
The team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership did proactively identify a Tweet that was in violation of the Twitter Rules and encouraged them to file a support ticket with our Trust and Safety team to report the violation, as has now been reported publicly. Our Trust and Safety team did not know that part of the story and acted on the report as they would any other.
As I stated earlier, we do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are. This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us. We should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is — whether a business partner, celebrity or friend. As of earlier today, the account has been unsuspended, and we will actively work to ensure this does not happen again.
Twitter General Counsel Alex McGillivray, who wrote the post, also personally apologized to Adams.
Related: Adams suspension punctuates Twitter’s evolution toward censorship