This Week in the Mercury


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Twitter Apologizes for Being Dicks

Posted by Paul Constant on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Yesterday, Twitter banned sportswriter Guy Adams for calling out NBC's terrible Olympics coverage. It looked like Twitter suspended Adams's account because he was mocking NBC, and NBC has a corporate sponsorship with Twitter for the duration of the Olympics.

Overnight, the news broke that Twitter in fact alerted NBC to Adams's tweets and urged them to file a complaint, which eventually got Adams suspended from Twitter. This is about as shitty as it gets. Twitter is a communications service, and they should not have any control over what gets said on their service. They especially should not protect their corporate partners from criticism. Imagine your Hotmail account banning you because you're complaining about your XBox not working in an email to your friends and you have an idea of how bad this is.

Now, Twitter's general counsel, Alex Macgillivray, writes that Twitter has reinstated Adams's account and says that the company apologizes for their actions:


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.


This is a good start, but Twitter had better make sure that they don't have too many more accidents like this one; people don't like it when their communication platform starts making judgment calls on their behalf.

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