Was Twitter Wrong For Banning A Heckling Journalist?

Guy Adams, a foreign correspondent for The Independent, was banned from Twitter last week for publishing an email address on his Twitter stream. The question now is, was he wrong for sharing that information or did Twitter take their privacy rules too far?

The American Network, NBC, has been heavily criticised for its coverage of the Olympic Games and Adams has been amongst the ranks of those complaining. Adams published the email address of NBC executive Gary Zenkel on his Twitter account, urging people to contact him and voice their complaints. Unfortunately for Adams, Twitter didn’t approve of this action and he was swiftly banned.

While Twitter have since reversed their decision and Adams’ account has been reinstated, there are still those left questioning which decision was the right one.

Adams pointed out that anyone was capable of using Google to find Zenkel’s corporate email address. It was available on many web pages and is the same format as everyone else at NBC Universal. In other words, Adam was merely giving out information that was already in the public sphere. Not only that but he was giving out a work related email address and asking people to contact Zenkel based on the work he does, something you’d expect the email address to be used for in any case.

On the flip side of the coin, Twitter do have their own policies in place. Many people’s home addresses are available on the internet, but tweeting those would be a bannable offense as well. Their practice is that there are certain types of information which, if tweeted and complained about, could lead to a ban. No one can argue that this isn’t the right thing to do to protect their users and themselves.

Unfortunately for Twitter though, while you can understand their policies, many question their motivation in this case. Not only was Adams banned in an unusually speedy manner, but Twitter and NBC are business partners which has led to a lot of speculation over their actions in this case.

Whichever side you wish to take in this case, one thing has become undeniably clear – Twitter is very much a part of the media ecosystem now and they need to be aware of that at all times. Perhaps they need to consider resizing those policies to fit in with their larger than life image.

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