Twitter found itself at the center of a firestorm when it suspended the account of Guy Adams, a British newspaper reporter for The Independent, after he posted complaints about NBC’s tape-delayed Olympics coverage. His posts included the e-mail address of Gary Zenkel, the head of NBC Olympics.
So how do we know when a company really screwed the pooch on an issue? Well, that’s easy. It’s when the general counsel writes a post for the company blog! Twitter’s general counsel, Alex Macgillivray (formerly of Google) posted yesterday on Twitter’s blog. He essentially tried to cover up the screw up in explaining the company’s Trust & Safety team’s practices and their policies.
The meat of the post however occurs here.
That said, we want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up. 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.
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.
That’s all well and good but now all we can be assured of in the future is that when Twitter is monitoring tweets on behalf of a partner that all parties will be notified internally and the exact proper channels will be taken to help get anything removed from a tweet stream that is deemed damaging to the partner.
So should we now trust Twitter to be free and clear of any more monitoring snafus? Do you really believe that they will simply let the tweet stream be what the tweet stream is, even when it comes to their media partners? I hope we are not that gullible.
Twitter will do whatever it can to ensure its partners are not being harmed in any way. They will just be more careful to make it look like the actual rules and regulations were followed when they act in the future. They can get the same result they got in the case of removing this account as long as the “client starts the process”. We as the general public will be none the wiser as to whether Twitter informed the partner / client or not.
Twitter really messed up here because they have betrayed the trust of their users who can now wonder if Twitter is monitoring them for anything that Twitter, or their partners, deems as unacceptable. Even by reinstating the account and keeping the ‘offending’ tweet in public Twitter has given us a peek behind the curtain and it looks like the wizard may just be a scared little man after all.
Does this incident take away some of the shine off of one the supposed free speech leaders of the world? It does for me. Now Twitter is just like the rest of them and that’s too bad.