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Twitter apologizes for mishandling of Guy Adams' suspension

July 31, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • A screenshot of a blog post by Alex Macgillivray, Twitter's general counsel, related to the suspension of journalist Guy Adams' Twitter account.
A screenshot of a blog post by Alex Macgillivray, Twitter's general… (Twitter )

Twitter apologized for its mishandling of journalist Guy Adams' suspension from the social network.

Adams, the Los Angeles correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, was suspended from Twitter on Sunday after tweeting the corporate email address of Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics. Twitter has implied it considers posting corporate email addresses without permission a violation of its rules.

The company on Tuesday said it erred when its team working with NBC alerted the network's staff about the tweet and told them it violated Twitter's rules. The Twitter team then encouraged NBC to report the violation.

"This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us," Alex Macgillivray, Twitter's general counsel, said in a blog post. "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."

Twitter has reinstated Adams' Twitter account, and he's already busy tweeting again.

Adams' account could have been reinstated earlier had he informed Twitter that he had read and understood its rules, but he said he did not want to set a wrong precedent as he felt he did not break any rules.

As for Twitter, Macgillivray said the company does not actively monitor users' accounts for violations.

Rather, users who feel their privacy has been violated must report the violations themselves or have someone do it for them. After a report has been filed, Twitter's Trust and Safety team reviews the report and makes a decision as to whether to suspend a violator's account.

Macgillivray said the Trust and Safety team was unaware the team working with NBC had set off the actions that led to the report, and he added that Twitter will work to prevent such actions in the future.

It's sad that the company's business partnership trumped its handling of an individual's account, but at least the company apologized and admitted its mistake.

However, going forward it should be assumed that Twitter considers posting a user's corporate email address as a violation of a user's privacy.

"There are many individuals who may use their work email address for a variety of personal reasons -- and they may not," Macgillivray said. "Our Trust and Safety team does not have insight into the use of every user’s email address, and we need a policy that we can implement across all of our users in every instance."

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