Twitter Apologizes to NBC-Critical Journalist, Reinstates His Feed

U.K. journalist Guy Adams had criticized NBC on Twitter for tape-delaying Olympic events and published the email address of the network's sports director so his followers could complain to him. Following a review of the situation, Twitter blogged: "We want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up."

Twitter reversed its field July 31 and reinstated U.K. journalist Guy Adams' account one day after it banned him for tweeting the business email address of the president of NBC Sports.

Guy Adams, a Los Angeles-based correspondent for the Fleet Street newspaper The Independent, had used Twitter to be critical of the network's often-lengthy time delays between its worldwide broadcasts and the live Olympic events. Adams asked his followers July 27 to file their disapproval with Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Sports.

"The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven't started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think!" Adams tweeted. Later, he published Zenkel's corporate email address, so that his followers could express their ire to Zenkel.

NBC Filed Complaint With Twitter

NBC Sports on July 30 followed up by filing a complaint with Twitter "because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives," prompting Twitter€”its Olympic social networking business partner€”to immediately suspend Adams' account.

Following a review of the situation 24 hours later, the San Francisco-based social network released a statement on its site late July 31 stating, in part: "We want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up."

Closure of Adams' Twitter account€”such an outlet can be important to journalists covering special events like the Olympics€”caused a spat for two days until the Twitter staff revisited the case and realized that Adams hadn't broken any user rules. What the Twitter rules team did not know was that Zenkel's email address is easily able to be found on the Internet; thus, it is in the public domain.

Twitter said that it does not monitor individual tweet streams. NBC claimed that Adams had crossed the line by releasing information about the network executive that was too "personally identifiable."

'Unsuspended' Account

Adams received an email from Twitter later in the day, which stated, in part: "Your account has been unsuspended."

In a blog post explaining its error, Twitter said: "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."

The explanation blog post continued: "We€™ve seen a lot of commentary about whether we should have considered a corporate email address to be private information. There are many individuals who may use their work email address for a variety of personal reasons€”and they 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."

After his account was reinstated, Adams immediately tweeted: "Oh. My Twitter account appears to have been un-suspended. Did I miss much while I was away?"

NBC had no other comment July 31.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...