Reporter suspended from Twitter following tweet run-in with NBC

Guy Adams, a reporter with The Independent, has his personal Twitter account shut down after including NBC top Olympics exec's email address in a tweet.

Last updated: 1:20 PM PT 

There's a brouhaha emerging that involves a reporter for the U.K. newspaper, The Independent, NBC's Olympic coverage and Twitter.

The reporter, Guy Adams, who has been critical of NBC's Olympics coverage,  was allegedly booted from Twitter for including NBC exec Gary Zenkel's email address in a tweet. Zenkel is President, NBC Olympics, and Executive Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for NBC Sports.

In anticipation of the opening ceremony broadcast, Adams tweeted: "I have 1000 channels on my TV. Not one will be showing the Olympics opening ceremony live. Because NBC are utter, utter bastards."

A Twitter spokesperson said the company doesn't comment about individual accounts, and instead pointed us to the its terms of service, which states:

"You may not publish or post other people's private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, street address or Social Security/National Identity numbers, without their express authorization and permission."

The terms of service specifically doesn't include publishing an email address as a violation, but it apparently falls under the use of private information without permission

Guy Adams (Credit: The Independent)

Deadspin published an email exchange between Adams and Twitter regarding his suspended account. 

Twitter's Trust and Safety representative wrote, "Your account has been suspended for posting an individual's private information such as private email address, physical address, telephone number, or financial documents." 

The email clarifies that Adams could have his account reinstated: "If you would like to request your account to be restored, please respond to this email and confirm that you've read and understood our rules: http://twitter.com/rules."

Adams responded that the email address published in his tweet was not private, but a corporate address easily found through a search engine, and questioned whether NBC was attempting to shut down Twitter accounts of writers critical of its Olympics coverage.

"We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives. According to Twitter, this is a violation of their privacy policy. Twitter alone levies discipline," an NBC Sports spokesperson said.

Twitter and NBCUniversal have partnered to create a curated Olympics event destination page on Twitter. "This partnership with Twitter will enable NBC Olympics to make an enormous contribution to this conversation, bringing to the swarm of attention surrounding the London Games our expertise, depth of content from our years of preparation, and the unique access to the Games only NBC Olympics has in London," Zenkel said in a press release

Now the conversation is turning toward Twitter and NBC, and how a reporter gets his Twitter accounts suspended for publishing an email address that could readily be discovered online.

Adams published his account of the suspension in The Independent, writing: 

Though I'm still banned from Twitter, so unable to personally verify this, colleagues inform me that my suspension has suddenly become a matter of public debate.

Since I'm still trying to get to bottom of the hows and whys of my suspension, which conceivably raises various ethical issues relevant to journalism in the online era, it seems premature to comment further. Except, perhaps to say that I do not wish Mr Zenkel any harm, and to share a transcript of my most recent email to Rachhel Bremer, Twitter's head of European PR.

"I'm of course happy to abide by Twitter's rules, now and forever," it reads. "But I don't see how I broke them in this case: I didn't publish a private email address. Just a corporate one, which is widely available to anyone with access to Google, and is identical [in form] to one that all of the tens of thousands of NBC Universal employees share. It's no more "private" than the address I'm emailing you from right now. Either way, [it's] quite worrying that NBC, whose parent company are an Olympic sponsor, are apparently trying (and, in this case, succeeding) in shutting down the Twitter accounts of journliasts who are critical of their Olympic coverage."

Dan Farber contributed to this story.

About the author

Paul Sloan is editor in chief of CNET News. Before joining CNET, he had been a San Francisco-based correspondent for Fortune magazine, an editor at large for Business 2.0 magazine, and a senior producer for CNN. When his fingers aren't on a keyboard, they're usually on a guitar. Email him here.

 

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