Attempting to silence one’s critics online almost always results in a massive magnification of their complaints. Today’s example comes via the British journalist Guy Adams, who spent hours on Friday bashing NBC’s delayed stateside coverage of the Olympics as “disgusting money-grabbing” by “total buffoons.” In one tweet from his rant, Adams wrote, “The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think! Email: Gary.firstname.lastname@example.org.” Soon after, Adams found his account had been suspended — “for posting an individual’s private information such as private email address,” as Twitter later informed him. Whether the address in question was actually private is arguable, but the shaky application of the rule is only undermined by the fact that Twitter and NBC have a strategic partnership for the Games.
While Adams’s account remains down, his cause has blown up.
In an e-mail to Twitter, obtained by Deadspin, Adams writes:
I’m of course happy to abide by Twitter’s rules, now and forever. 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 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, 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.
Am I to presume, for example, that they decided to complain about me because of my recent article in the Indy’s news page about their various failures?
His account of the saga can be seen here, and includes confirmation that NBC Sports filed a complaint to have his account removed for posting the “personal information of one of our executives.” (Adams also appears to have retweeted a link to an illegal stream of the Opening Ceremony, but that message was not cited as a suspend-able offense by NBC or Twitter.)
According to Twitter’s rules, private and confidential information includes “non-public, personal email addresses,” while Zenkel’s is clearly corporate, not personal. If it was ever private, it’s not now.