Bloomberg News

Twitter Blocks Reporter After He Posts NBC Executive E-Mail

July 30, 2012

Twitter Blocks Journalist After He Posts NBC Executive’s E

Gary Zenkel, President of NBC Olympics, gestures as he speaks at The Cable Show in Boston. Journalist Guy Adams tweeted Zenkel's email address. Photographer: Jessica Rinaldi/Landov  

Twitter Inc. blocked Independent newspaper journalist Guy Adams from the social-networking service after he posted the e-mail address of an NBC Sports executive while complaining about Olympics coverage.

Adams, saying he was frustrated with NBC’s delayed coverage of Olympic events, had tweeted the corporate e-mail address of NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel. A few dozen people reposted the address on their own feeds, he said on the website of the U.K.’s Independent. He later discovered that his account had been suspended, Adams said.

“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,’” Adams wrote. “It then contained a copy of my tweet regarding Mr. Zenkel.”

NBC Sports, a partner with Twitter in covering the Olympic Games in London, said it complained to the social-networking site because the tweet violated privacy policies. Still, it was Twitter that made the decision to block Adams, NBC Sports said in an e-mailed statement.

“We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives,” said NBC Sports, a division of Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US)’s NBCUniversal. “Twitter alone levies discipline.”

Carolyn Penner, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Twitter, said her company doesn’t comment on individual accounts for privacy reasons. Adams also declined to comment to Bloomberg News, saying the Independent was seeking more details about what had happened.

What’s Non-Public?

Twitter says on its website that posting “non-public, personal e-mail addresses” are examples of private and confidential information. It doesn’t specify if work e-mails are public or non-public.

Twitter could have handled the situation better by asking Adams to remove the posting with the e-mail, instead of shutting down the entire account, said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Inc.

“Someone at Twitter should have looked at this in the larger context because it probably could have been resolved with a single phone call or with a single e-mail,” Gartenberg said. “Instead it became this mini-tempest in a teapot when there was really no reason for it to be anything other than, ‘You’ve stepped over a guideline of using Twitter. Please step back over the line and everyone will be happy.’”

Adams had criticized NBC in a number of tweets for its policy of tape-delaying major Olympic events and the opening ceremonies so that it could air the programming during prime time. Live events are available for cable subscribers online.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net; Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net


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