We’re not going to apologise for returning to the storm surrounding the suspension of a journalist’s Twitter account because in a free-speech democracy, this stuff matters.
To re-cap: The Twitter account of Guy Adams, a U.S.-based journalist for the UK-based Independent newspaper has been suspended by Twitter. In common with many, many media outlets, Adams has been highly critical of NBC’s Olympics coverage, and he’s by no means alone. But when he tweeted a top NBC executive’s email address, NBC complained, and his account was suspended, as we’ve reported, for allegedly posting someone else’s private information. Something against the company’s rules. (Twitter and NBC are partners for the Olympic Games, although there’s no suggestion that there is any conspiracy here).
In an update to the story Search Engine Land notes that “celebrities, have done similar things without Twitter taking action.”
We reached out to Twitter for a response. They are standing by their earlier statement. A spokesperson told us: “We don’t comment on individual accounts so [we have] nothing further to add.” They also did not respond to the question of whether Adams’ account would be re-instated.
We also reached out to Twitter to clarify if it would suspend the account of Lady Gaga if she tweeted a work email address (or a private one). This has happened in the past with other celebrities. CJ Wilson (a high profile pitcher) tweeted the cell phone number of his ex-teammate once and didn’t lose his account. Justin Bieber tweeted an enemy’s mobile number. Nothing happened. There have been other cases.
At the time of publication there was no response from Twitter on this issue.
So it would appear emails are fair game when they are tweeted by celebrities who have a huge following. Remember, Twitter was the first place we ordinary mortals could really interact with celebrities in any vaguely meaningful way. To suspend a celebrity account would be to not only disappoint users, but to possibly even remove much of the reason a lot of people are on Twitter in the first place.
SEL claims the NBC exec’s email address was not “widely available” because it was only on the Internet for more or less one page before all the hoo haa. But this is an obfuscation.
Given that anyone on the (uncensored) Internet can access Google, a result only needs to be on Google or Bing or any search engine ONCE for it to be ‘widely available’ to millions of people in the Internet. As the phrase goes, on the Internet once, on the Internet forever.
The exec’s email address was clearly online and searchable, as well as easily worked out by seeing how NBC structures its generic corporate email addresses.
Certainly the old Biz Stone phrase, “The Tweets must flow” looks quite different in light of this event.
We think that morally, Twitter has a duty to clarify its policy, but while it does, it should also re-instate the Twitter account of a legitimate member of the media.
Adams has now posted a story about the incident.