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Did Twitter alert NBC to Adams' Olympics criticism?

It was believed that NBC discovered the tweets and complained to Twitter. But a new report says Twitter acted first by alerting NBC to Adams' tweets.


The drama surrounding Twitter's suspension of a U.K. newspaper reporter over his criticism of NBC has taken a rather surprising twist.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting today that it received an e-mail from Christopher McCloskey, NBC Sports vice president of communications, who told the news outlet that his company was alerted to tweets The Independent reporter Guy Adams sent out criticizing NBC over its Olympics coverage by Twitter itself.

"Our social media dept was actually alerted to it by Twitter and then we filled out the form and submitted it," McCloskey told the Daily Telegraph.

Adams took to Twitter criticizing NBC for not airing the Olympics opening ceremony live. As the criticisms kept coming, Adams was allegedly suspended from Twitter for including NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel's corporate e-mail address in a tweet.

NBC confirmed after the suspension that it had complained to Twitter, saying that it was a violation of the site's terms of service.

"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 yesterday.

Twitter's terms of service does not mention e-mail addresses specifically. However, it does say that users "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."

For his part, Adams has claimed innocence, saying that he doesn't understand how publishing a corporate e-mail address would violate any privacy policies.

"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 journalists who are critical of their Olympic coverage," Adams wrote in The Independent.

If Twitter did, in fact, point out to NBC that Adams was publishing criticisms, it could call the company's own actions into question. Twitter has made it clear for years that it's a neutral party in complaints that arise from tweets, and it will only act if it receives a valid takedown request.

Twitter famously outlined its handling of tweets in a blog post last year called, "The Tweets Must Flow." In it, Twitter acknowledged that it "simply cannot review" all of the tweets that are sent out, and sometimes, it might not like what's written. But the company believes that it has a responsibility to allow free speech to persist on its network.

"Freedom of expression is essential," the company wrote. "Some Tweets may facilitate positive change in a repressed country, some make us laugh, some make us think, some downright anger a vast majority of users. We don't always agree with the things people choose to tweet, but we keep the information flowing irrespective of any view we may have about the content."

Given that, Adams is not too happy to hear that Twitter might have informed NBC of his tweets. In a statement to the Daily Telegraph, he said that if the claim is true, it runs against the company's core philosophies.

"If what NBC is saying is true, it undermines everything that Twitter stands for and is an absolute disgrace and will aggravate many millions of its users," he told The Daily Telegraph. "Their whole corporate ethos is that they never interfere with the flow of tweets. Something has gone very very wrong here."

CNET has contacted Twitter for comment on the Daily Telegraph's report. We will update this story when we have more information.