Arun Sudhaman 31 Jul 2012 // 2:40PM GMT
Update: Twitter has since reinstated Guy Adams' account, three days after it was suspended, informing the journalist that the complainant had retracted its request. In a longer blogpost, general counsel Alex Macgillivray also apologizes for "messing up", after NBC revealed that people at Twitter prompted its original complaint. Twitter's decision to suspend Independent journalist Guy Adams has attracted plenty of scrutiny, and with good reason. Adams has been vocal in his criticism of NBC's Olympics coverage; Twitter claims he published the private email address of an NBC executive. The evidence suggests Adams did not contravene Twitter policy. More importantly, Twitter has a well-publicised deal in place with NBC during the Olympics, which has led many commentators to question the nature of its decision. It is hard to believe that Twitter was unaware of the public relations fallout that would greet this course of action, given its relationship with NBC. The circumstances call for stringent attention to any suggestion of commercial influence over its decisions, and clear communication of the reasons behind the suspension. Already, some are calling it a defining moment for the six-year-old company. Instead, Twitter has declined to comment, even as the suggestion that NBC influenced its move (which the broadcaster contests) gains weight. Ironically, Adams' suspension has resulted in the NBC email address in question being spread far and wide on the internet, along with the criticisms of its Olympics coverage (see #NBCFail or #TwitterFail). The 'Streisand effect' is a reminder that any notion of control is an illusory one. Twitter has a communications team that has grown steadily over the past couple of years, and has, at various times, brought in agency support in the US and UK. In situations like these, it is tempting to think that perhaps the comms people were simply not consulted. Either way, Twitter's approach here demonstrates a sharp divergence from the transparency and engagement that its own platform encourages.