Guy Adams has only been a First Amendment hero for a few days, and already he has a career highlight: A CNN producer cautioning him against comparing himself to Nelson Mandela when Twitter reinstated his account Tuesday. Adams lost his tweeting privileges after he broadcast the work email address of NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel Friday; NBC confirmed it had filed a complaint about the tweet after Twitter alerted the network to its existence, an action Twitter apologized for Tuesday.
Adams focuses less on Twitter's complicity than on the inconsistency with which it applied its rules, repeating his contention that Zenkel's email was easily found on the Internet. (That's a stretch, Search Engine Land Editor-in-Chief Danny Sullivan wrote Tuesday.) He lists several times the microblogging service didn't act: MIA tweeting Lynne Hirschberg's phone number, Spike Lee tweeting the wrong address for George Zimmerman.
But as Matt Buchanan writes in BuzzFeed, Twitter acts only when it receives a complaint. Twitter General Counsel Alex McGillivray reiterated in an apology to Adams that the social network "should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is." That's why it apologized for narcing out Adams to NBC but not for suspending him.
It wants the precedent that this has set — monitoring a tweet and then acting upon a violation — to be erased, because it wants never to have that responsibility on its hands, no matter who asks, whether it's a celebrity or corporate partner, or perhaps more crucially, the government.The not-totally-clear question of whether Zenkel's email was easily available, Buchanan writes, suggests Twitter should update its rules to "reflect whatever rules it will follow, even if it is, 'We reserve the right to do whatever we want.' " (more...)