Twitter is under fire for apparently warning NBC Sports of critical tweets by Independent reporter Guy Adams, which led to the journalist's account on the microblogging service being suspended. Adams had used his high-profile account to blast NBC for failing to air live coverage of the Olympics 2012 opening ceremony, at one point mentioning the email address of NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel to encourage complaints, in a move that triggered a complaint from NBC's social media team.
Twitter's role in flagging up the anti-NBC sentiment was revealed by NBC Sports itself, telling The Telegraph via email that it was the social network that first identified the PR problem, not its own team of tweet-trackers. "Our social media dept was actually alerted to it by Twitter and then we filled out the form and submitted it" NBC Sports' Christopher McCloskey, VP of communications, told the newspaper.
As a result of that form, Adams - who is the foreign correspondent for UK paper The Independent - found that his account has been frozen. Twitter claims that he contravened rules about giving out personal information, and that Adams can be reinstated if he writes a formal apology and admits he broke a rule, something the reporter himself denies. In fact, Adams and others point out, Zenkel's NBC email address is widely available online.
What has particularly muddied the waters is NBC and Twitter's existing relationship. The microblogging platform has in fact partnered with NBC to run an Olympics-themed tweet hub, and while the deal is supposedly unpaid, critics have suggested that this may have prompted Twitter to highlight Adams' messages in the hope of gaining an excuse to clean up its coverage.
"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" Adams said in a statement, adding that he is reluctant to accede to the company's demands. "I don’t understand their rules, I haven’t done anything wrong and I think it sets a very ugly precedent for me to promise not to do it again."