Twitter restores Guy Adams’ account as it admits “we did mess up”
In a blog post reminding users about its private information policy and its Terms of Service Twitter admitted that the team working with NBC on its Olympics coverage did over step the mark and pro-actively flagged Adams’ tweet to NBC and told the broadcaster how to make a complaint.
For that part of the story Twitter held its hands up and apologised admitting “that we did mess up”. It went further, to reassure Twitter users, and said that “this behaviour was not acceptable and undermines the trust we users have in us”.
The incident started on Monday as Adams tweeted about NBC’s botched coverage of the London 2012 Olympics, which has made the US broadcaster a global laughing stock and sent the hashtag
The problems for NBC started from the opening ceremony and have continued. Most recently it showed images from an NBC promo of American swimmer Missy Franklin winning her Olympic gold medal medal BEFORE it had shown the race.
Adams tweeted: “The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what you think! Email: gary.zenkel@…”Adamstweeted the email address of Zenkel, who is President of NBC Olympics.
The tweet added to the ton of pressure NBC was already facing over its coverage and led the Twitter team working on the Olympics, out of an office in Boulder Colorado, to step in and take action. The team contacted NBC which then lodged its complaint with Twitter’s Trust and Safety team. That team at Twitter HQ were unaware that staff within Twitter itself had essentially originated the complaint.
Alex Macgillivray, general counsel at Twitter, said: “We want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up. 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 behaviour 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.”
The other part of the debate centred on Adams tweeting Zenkel’s corporate email address. This raised the question about whether such email addresses are private or public?
The truth is that they are a little of both. They are there for those who need them, who should legitimately have access to them, but they are not generally available to the public who have a problem they wish to shout about, which is what Adams was encouraging.
Their status is probably best described as “public/private”. A hybrid of the two and it strikes me that Adams, as a professionally journalist, really should have known better than to publish Zenkel’s email address on Twitter.
That said a suspension was also probably overkill. There have to be virtual slaps on the wrist for this kind of behaviour less it risk creating a stream of digital martyrs and lead to long days of the media talking endlessly about itself on Twitter, which as we all know can get extremely boring.
Twitter’s response to the “public/private” nature of corporate email boils down to this: it has to have one policy and there are many who consider their work email address private:
“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 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.”