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Under The Twitter Rules, it is stated that “You may not publish or post other people’s private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, street address or Social Security/National Identity numbers, without their express authorization and permission.”
The San Francisco-based microblogging service offered this reasoning to journalist Guy Adams for his account’s suspension on July 29. Adams, the Los Angeles correspondent for UK publication The Independent, had tweeted on July 27:
“The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think! Email: Gary.firstname.lastname@example.org.” The corporate email account belongs to Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics for NBCUniversal (a Comcast Corporation subsidiary), the American broadcaster with exclusive US media rights to the airing of the London 2012 Olympics.
As part of his email to Twitter’s European public relations executive Rachel Bremer, Adams wrote, “I’m of course happy to abide by Twitter’s rules, now and forever,” it reads. “But I don’t see how I broke them in this case: I didn’t publish a private email address. Just a corporate one, which is widely available to anyone with access to Google, and is identical [in form] to one that all of the tens of thousands of NBC Universal employees share.”
Although Zenkel’s email is not readily available on NBCUniversal’s website, the email accounts of executives at American cable channel Bravo – which is owned by NBCUniversal – follow the same format. Since his suspension, Twitter users have been reposting Zenkel’s email in a show of solidarity. Regarding the dubious “non-public” status of the account, New York Magazine wrote, “If it was ever private, it’s not now.” The hashtags #NBCFail and #TwitterFail are also trending in relation to the incident.
In a twist that had Adams writing about “various ethical issues relevant to journalism in the online era,” NBC Sports issued a statement yesterday regarding its role in bringing the message to Twitter’s attention. Matthew Keys of Reuters tweeted part of the statement, “”We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives.”
The service entered into a partnership with NBC to tweet exclusive Olympic content through its website. According to the Wall Street Journal, the broadcaster will not be paying Twitter or sharing any advertising revenue.
Twitter has not responded publicly regarding the incident.