A British writer suspended from the social networking website ‘Twitter’ for posting the company e-mail address of an NBC executive has had his account reinstated.
Guy Adams, a writer for The Independent (UK) and a critic of NBC’s tape-delayed coverage of the ongoing London Olympics, had his Twitter account suspended Sunday, two days after he posted a comment critical of NBC that included the company e-mail address of NBC Sports president Gary Zenkel.
In the comment, Adams wrote that Zenkel was the “man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet,” posted Zenkel’s e-mail address, and then encouraged his followers to contact the executive.
Based on statements by both Twitter and NBC, it would appear that the website notified NBC of the comment and suggested action be taken, prompting NBC to file a complaint. Twitter then suspended Adams’ account.
Of note, Twitter and NBC are currently engaged in a “non-financial partnership” for the Olympics (USA Today, 7/31).
After a predictable storm of criticism, Twitter reinstated Adams’ account Tuesday. Both Twitter and NBC offered the typical PR-driven apologies, with the latter indicating that their intention was not to have Adams suspended.
Even if NBC did not seek to silence Adams, it seems clear the intention was to at the very least quiet him. Keep in mind that Adams did not just limit his criticism of NBC to Twitter, but had also written a piece in The Independent “detailing widespread public complaints about the network’s coverage” (The Independent, 7/31).
It remains to be seen if this incident will have any kind of chilling effect on journalists’ criticism of NBC. While some writers will no doubt be emboldened by this incident, there are others who will simply not want to go through the trouble. If NBC can put a scare into those writers and thus reduce the number of journalists willing to criticize the company’s endeavors — on the Olympics or any other topic — it will have been worth one weekend of bad press.
One fact is already evident. Like most Twitter protests in the sports world, the firestorm over Adams’ suspension made no real impact. Television viewership for the tape delayed primetime telecasts on NBC continues to rank as the highest in at least a decade.