Twitter suspends journalist for criticizing NBC’s Olympic coverage

Twitter recently suspended Guy Adams’ account after he tweeted an NBC exec’s email address to his followers. Is the suspension censorship? UPDATED

Have you heard of censorship?

According to Dictionary.com, “censor” means: “An official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military or other grounds.”

Now the “etc.” extends to Twitter.

Twitter recently suspended the account of a critic of NBC and its coverage of the Olympics, with no update on when it might reinstate it.

The backstory

Like many of you, Guy Adams, a writer for The Independent in Great Britain but resident of Los Angeles, took to Twitter to criticize NBC for its tape delay of the opening ceremonies, subpar reporting, and silly policy that won’t allow us to see the games in real-time. (Though by the time we see the coverage we already know what happens.)

Adams was relentless in his tweets, but didn’t say anything I haven’t seen from my friends on Facebook and Twitter.

“Am I alone in wondering why NBC Olympics think its [sic] acceptable to pretend this road race is being broadcast live?”

“Matt Lauer: ‘Madagascar, a location indelibly associated with a couple of recent animated movies.'”

Adams encouraged Lauer “to shut up” and called out Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, as the “moronic exec behind the time delay.” And, he said Zenkel should be fired.

In one of his tweets about Zenkel, Adams tweeted the NBC executive’s email address and encouraged his followers to send him a note.

This tweet caused the account suspension.

Twitter account suspended

Adams said he filed a story with The Independent and, when he went to Twitter, discovered his account was gone.

Twitter support told him:

But Adams insists one can easily find Zenkel’s email address on Google, so he didn’t, in fact, violate Twitter’s terms of service.

Censorship or “rules”?

The suspension generated speculation that NBC was involved in Twitter’s decision because they are partners during the Olympic Games.

NBC released a statement saying:

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

Whether the relationship with—and complaint from—NBC had anything to do with the suspension, this feels very much like censorship to me.

While there isn’t an official reading through tweets (as according to the formal definition of “censor”), Twitter suspended the objectionable parts of Adams’ Twitter account.

If Adams tweeted Zenkel’s home address and phone number, I could understand the suspension. But an email address that anyone can easily find with a Google search?

What do you think? Did Adams deserve the suspension, or is this censorship? UPDATE: Twitter reinstated his account; NBC offers statement.

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. A version of this article originally ran on Spin Sucks. (Image via)

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