Commentary

Twitter Apologizes For Turning Tattler

Twitter today backpedaled from its ill-advised decision to suspend the account of journalist Guy Adams. The microblogging service restored Adams' account, and Twitter counsel Alex Macgillivray acknowledged that the company violated its own procedures in how it handled the matter.

Twitter roiled many industry watchers yesterday by suspending Adams' account after he criticized NBC's decision to delay broadcasts of the Olympics. Starting on Friday, Adams issued a series of tweets blasting NBC for the time delay. One of them urged readers to complain directly to NBC executive Gary Zenkel. That message included Zenkel's corporate email address -- which Twitter says violates a rule against disclosing other people's supposedly private information in tweets. (In this case, it's arguable whether the address was private, given that it could be found on Google before Adams tweeted it.)

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Initially, it appeared that NBC spontaneously griped to Twitter about the post. But today it emerged that Twitter told NBC -- its partner for Olympics coverage -- about the tweet. It was only after Twitter informed on Adams that NBC filed a formal complaint, triggering the suspension.

This morning, NBC retracted its complaint and the account was restored.

Several hours later Macgillivray admitted that Twitter violated its policies by telling NBC about Adams' tweet. "We do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are," Macgillivray wrote. "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."

At the same time, Macgillivray insists that Twitter's rules prohibit users from publicizing email addresses -- even the work email addresses of high-ranking corporate officials. "There are many individuals who may use their work email address for a variety of personal reasons -- and some may not. Our Trust and Safety team does not have insight into the use of every user’s email address, and we need a policy that we can implement across all of our users in every instance," Macgillivray writes.

 

 

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