HashGag? Twitter alerts NBC of critical British journalist, then suspends him

Twiter, NBC logos
Guy Adams, a writer for the UK’s The Independent, had his Twitter account suspended after criticizing NBC’s coverage of the 2012 London Olympics. The broadcaster, alerted by Twitter, requested the ban.

The LA-based Brit was initially angered by NBC’s decision to broadcast some events on tape-delay.

Am I alone in wondering why NBColympics [sic] think its [sic] acceptable to pretend this road race is being broadcast live?” he tweeted.

Adams’ tweets became more and more acerbic, until the journalist went after NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel, calling him a “moronic exec” who was misleading the network’s viewers. Adams then tweeted that Zenkel should be fired, and published Zeckel’s corporate email address so that his followers could give him a piece of their mind.

Twitter suspended Adams’ account Tuesday for “posting an individual's private information such as private email address," though Zenkel’s email address was a publicly available corporate address. A spokesperson for NBC claimed they were alerted to the posting by Twitter itself, who advised the company on how to file a complaint against Adams, according to the UK's Daily Telegraph.

"If what NBC is saying is true, it undermines everything that Twitter stands for and is an absolute disgrace and will aggravate many millions of its users," Adams told the Daily Telegraph.

NBC and Twitter recently formed a corporate partnership for the 2012 London Olympics, "to bring Olympic coverage and social conversation to viewers everywhere."

A statement issued by NBC confirmed that the broadcasting giant had asked Twitter to suspend Adams’ account by filing a complaint over the tweet containing their executive’s personal information: "According to Twitter, this is a violation of their privacy policy. Twitter alone levies discipline."

And whether it levied discipline or not, by Tuesday night Twitter had reactivated Adams’ account, with the journalist receiving a short email from the service’s Trust and Safety team, which said the initial complaint had been retracted.

If NBC’s claims of being prompted by Twitter prove to be true, then “it would seem that Twitter may have betrayed almost all of its supposed values in order to foster a commercial relationship,” Adams wrote in his column at The Independent's website.

What could be more at odds with Twitter, and everything it stands for, than for the company to have engaged in censorship in the hopeful pursuit of a quick buck?” he asked.

For NBC, this is not the first awkward moment during Olympic coverage – the company was roundly criticized for cutting a tribute to the July 7, 2005 terror attacks in London from its broadcast. NBC chose instead to play an interview between ‘American Idol’ host Ryan Seacrest and US swimmer Michael Phelps.

The network defended the decision as “tailoring our program to the US audience.”

Critics of Twitter’s decision to suspend Adams have taken to the microblogging service with the #NBCFail hashtag, sparking a debate over whether the action was the result of a policy of deliberate censorship, or merely caused by an overzealous employee.