Twitter lifts suspension for vocal critic of NBC’s Olympics coverage

Dylan Stableford
The Lookout

Facing an Olympic-size public backlash, Twitter lifted its suspension of Guy Adams, a Los Angeles-based correspondent for London's Independent who had been highly critical of NBC's coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

According to Adams, the microblogging service—which partnered with NBC for the summer games—alerted him of the reinstatement via email.

"We have just received an update from the complainant retracting their original request," Twitter wrote, according to Adams. "Therefore your account has been unsuspended."

Twitter did not give further explanation or offer an apology, Adams added.

Adams' account was suspended on Sunday, two days after he tweeted the corporate email address of NBC's Olympics president, Gary Zenkel, whom Adams called the "moronic" executive behind the network's decision to tape-delay events for its prime-time U.S. broadcast.

"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," Adams argued in an email to Twitter's head of European public relations. "It's no more 'private' than the address I'm emailing you from right now."

NBC released a statement on Monday confirming that it contacted Twitter to complain.

"We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives," the network said. "According to Twitter, this is a violation of their privacy policy. Twitter alone levies discipline."

[Also read: Critic of NBC has Twitter account suspended after network complains]

But according to The Telegraph, it was Twitter that informed NBC of Adams' tweet, not the other way around.

"Our social media [department] was actually alerted to it by Twitter," Christopher McCloskey, NBC Sports vice-president of communications, wrote in an email to the newspaper. "Then we filled out the form and submitted it."

On Tuesday, Twitter confirmed that it alerted NBC to the tweet.

"We want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up," Twitter general counsel Alex Macgillivray wrote in a lengthy blog post explaining how the company handled Adams' case. "The team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership did proactively identify a Tweet that was in violation of the Twitter Rules and encouraged them to file a support ticket with our Trust and Safety team to report the violation, as has now been reported publicly. Our Trust and Safety team did not know that part of the story and acted on the report as they would any other."

Macgillivray continued:

As I stated earlier, we do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are. This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us. We should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is--whether a business partner, celebrity or friend. As of earlier today, the account has been unsuspended, and we will actively work to ensure this does not happen again.

The NBC-Twitter partnership was announced earlier this month before NBC's coverage of the games began.

"During the games, Twitter is using its Olympics events page to highlight insiders' views, and to encourage people to watch NBC's on-air and online coverage," the companies said in a press release.

"If criticizing NBC over how it's handled the Olympic coverage were cause for suspension," quipped Michael Gartenberg, a tech industry analyst for Gartner, "Twitter would pretty much be empty right about now."

[Related: Tape-delayed opening ceremony turns out to be ratings gold for NBC]

There's been so much criticism of NBC's Olympics tape-delay on Twitter, in fact, a hashtag—#NBCFail—began trending on Saturday, the network's first full day of coverage. And a parody account—@NBCDelayed—was launched on Sunday.

"Tune in tonight for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Beijing," one tweet read.

Despite the criticism, the tape-delay appears to be working. NBC's coverage of the opening ceremonies on Sunday delivered a 23.0 overnight rating—the best ever for an Olympics held outside the United States.