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Twitter suspends journalist who was critical of NBC

Doug Gross, CNN
Twitter says it doesn't monitor tweets but investigates if users complain someone has revealed personal information.
Twitter says it doesn't monitor tweets but investigates if users complain someone has revealed personal information.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Critic of NBC's Olympic coverage is suspended from Twitter
  • Guy Adams of London's Independent tweeted an NBC executive's e-mail address
  • NBC complained and Twitter says that's against its rules
  • Adams had criticized NBC's decision to not air events live

(CNN) -- A journalist who has criticized NBC's coverage of the London Olympics has been suspended from Twitter after using the site to publish a network executive's private e-mail address and urge followers to message him.

Guy Adams, the Los Angeles correspondent for London's Independent newspaper, said he was tossed from the site Sunday after a series of posts, beginning Friday, that were critical of NBC's decision to delay airing the Games' Opening Ceremony and other events.

"The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven't started yet is Gary Zenkel," read one post from Friday referring to the network, which has exclusive broadcast rights to the London Olympics in the United States. "Tell him what u think!" That post then listed Zenkel's e-mail address.

Adams didn't notice any repercussions until he checked his account Sunday, he said.

"When I logged on, I was presented with a message saying it had been 'suspended,' " Adams wrote in a post for the Independent. "If I had any questions, I was asked to click on a link and fill in an online form.

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"[Monday] morning, I heard back from Twitter. In what was apparently an automated e-mail, I was told that: 'Your Twitter account has been suspended for posting an individual's private information such as private e-mail address.' It then contained a copy of my tweet regarding Mr. Zenkel."

Twitter spokeswoman Rachael Horowitz said the company doesn't "comment on individual users for privacy reasons." Twitter's terms of use forbid posting other people's personal information. The site says it doesn't monitor tweets but investigates if a user complains that they've been affected.

NBC Sports has confirmed that it complained about the post.

"We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives," the company said in a written statement. "According to Twitter, this is a violation of their privacy policy. Twitter alone levies discipline."

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Twitter does say that posting information that's already been published online doesn't violate its terms. Some people critical of the move say that should have saved Adams, because a Web search for Zenkel's e-mail address will turn it up. As Mashable's Chris Taylor writes, however, it's not easily found, and it is featured most prominently on an anti-NBC petition.

Twitter and NBC Universal have a partnership during the Olympics through which the social media service is collecting tweets from athletes and fans and displaying them all on one page.

Adams has used Twitter and his articles to fire withering criticism at NBC over how it has handled Olympic coverage.

In tweets that have since been deleted, he accused NBC of "disgusting money grabbing" and called the company "utter, utter bastards."

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Many users have taken to Twitter to speak against his suspension, saying it appears linked to his critiques.

"The Guy Adams Twitter ban illustrates three tendencies of hegemonic power; 1) hates criticism, 2) takes itself seriously 3) no sense of fun," posted Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh, the author of "Trainspotting."

Others, though, noted that the posting of Zenkel's e-mail makes it a somewhat murkier question.

"If criticizing NBC over how it's handled the Olympic coverage were cause for suspension Twitter would pretty much be empty right about now," wrote tech industry analyst Michael Gartenberg.

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