Twitter Backs Down, Unsuspends @GuyAdams, Issues Apology, Leaves Key Questions Unanswered

Twitter’s been a hot topic the past couple of days, but not for any reasons that have put the micro-blogging platform in a favourable light. After suspending The Independent journalist Guy Adams for his part in what was very much a collective and Twitter-wide outpouring of criticism of NBC’s coverage of the London Olympic Games, Twitter has finally seen sense and restored Adams’ account.

They’ve also issued an apology. However, the reason why Adams was actually banned from the network, when other Twitter users have behaved in a similar (and often far worse) fashion and been ignored, is still far from clear. Moreover, Twitter’s relationship with its partners, and the ramifications therein for the end user, is also now being questioned.

Legend has it that Adams account was suspended on Sunday (July 30th) because he tweeted the email address of Gary Zinkel, the president of the NBC Olympics, which was seen as a breach of Twitter’s TOS which states that posting another user’s private information is a big no-no.

Problem was Zinkel’s NBC email address is not private, and can fairly easily be found on Google. Which is where Adams himself tracked it down. However, NBC complained to Twitter – after being alerted to the “violation” by Twitter themselves – who swiftly suspended Adams’ account.

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

Buck nicely passed. The issue, which has left Twitter’s record as a champion of the little guy in tatters, is that Twitter is very much in bed with NBC as it tries to position itself as the “official narrator” of the London Games.

Cue massive public backlash.

One of the reasons why Twitter gets into trouble when things like this happen is that the company has this really annoying policy of maintaining their usual stance of mystery and suspense when it comes to giving reasons why they have made a decision or taken an action. As I’m sure you’ll be aware if you’ve ever tried to get something done with Twitter’s support team, it’s a very frustrating process. You submit a support ticket, wait ages for a response and then get sent either an automated or generic reply. You push, and if you’re lucky you’ll be sent a list of vague, generic “reasons” by a real person. You push again and you’ll never get another response.

In short, it’s crap.

A similar thing happened to Adams. Nobody contacted him from Twitter to explain why his profile had been suspended. He had to write to them, including a reach-out to Twitter’s European PR head Rachel Bremer (you can read his email exchanges on Deadspin), but it wasn’t enough for Twitter to do anything about it.

Luckily for Adams, everybody else stood up and took notice. Ultimately Twitter, after much pressure, did a complete 180 and restored Adams profile.

“Your account was suspended because a complaint was filed stating that you had violated our terms of service,” Twitter wrote in an email to Adams. “We have just received an updated notice from the complainant retracting the original request. Therefore, your account has been unsuspended, and no further action is required from you at this time.”

Buck nicely passed back. It wasn’t us, it was those pesky NBC guys! Good news – they changed their mind!

Adams returned to Twitter-world at 1736 UTC yesterday.