Was this a #Twitterfail?

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Some people refrain from using Twitter because of its potential to get them in trouble. Actually, Twitter is more of a conduit for people to get themselves in trouble–Anthony Weiner, Spike Lee, Alec Baldwin, any Kardashian–the list is long of those who’ve thrown discretion to the wind on the micro-blogging site.

But even Twitter isn’t immune to the backlash of social media, even from its own users. When Twitter suspended the account of a Los Angeles-based reporter for The Independent, a U.K. newspaper, its users unleashed a howl of protest in which the reporter’s name, Guy Adams, became a trending topic with the hashtag #saveguyadams. As a result of the Guy Adams issue, we also saw increased usage of the #nbcfail hashtag, which a web designer from Illionois launched on July 26 for other programming reasons.

Adams’s transgression started in the form of a tweeted complaint about NBC’s delayed broadcasts of the Olympics opening ceremonies. He also tweeted the supposed email address of Gary Zenkel, whose title is listed on www.nbcuni.com as President, NBC Olympics & Executive Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, NBC Sports, NBC Sports Group. (Try saying that five times fast.)

Adams advised other frustrated viewers to email complaints to Zenkel and provided an email address, which we’ve chosen not to repeat here.

Twitter said Adams violated its user policy by publishing private information (in this case an email address) about another user.

First off, it’s not clear that Zenkel’s business email is “public” as some Adams advocates have charged because none of the corporate email addresses of NBCUniversal’s executives are listed on its web page. Because of those omissions, one could argue that these business email addresses are considered “private.” If so, then Adams clearly violated the Twitter user policy.

Additionally, it’s highly unlikely that Zenkel made a unilateral decision about when to air the opening ceremonies in the United States. So why spam his email address? What would it accomplish?

NBCUniversal provides an email address specifically for viewer feedback: nbcuniversalviewerfeedback@nbcuni.com. A concentrated effort to air grievances to that address is much more likely to be taken seriously.

While Twitter’s outright suspension of Adams’s account is questionable, especially in light of the backlash by Twitter users charging censorship, we think Adams was wrong to publish the email address. Twitter also erred in suspending the account without initial explanation. A warning from Twitter to Adams and a request to delete the tweet should have been sufficient.

UPDATE: Twitter has reinstated Guy Adams’s account: http://adage.com/article/digital/twitter-apologizes-suspending-nbc-bashing-journalist/236419/

Posted on July 31, 2012, in The Hit Board and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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