Twitter’s Olympic Fail Fiasco: Apologies Aren’t Enough

When NBC disappointed many by not streaming the London 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony and limiting the games to subscribers, The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, Guy Adams, couldn’t take it anymore.

He tweeted on his @guyadams Twitter handle: “The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think! Email: Gary.zenkel@nbcuni.com.”

Adams wasn’t finished with NBC and called their plans to tape-delay the Olympics as “disgusting money-grabbing.” He even tweeted a link to NMR’s live stream of the opening ceremony that I sent him: “Say “up yours” to @nbcolympics and watch that opening ceremony here MT @edfcarrasco: we got what the people want: http://t.co/IB5epHmx

You would think that posting the BBC’s live coverage of the Opening Ceremony would have made Adams toast. No, Twitter suspended his account for more than 24 hours this week “for posting an individual’s private information such as private email address, physical address, telephone number, or financial documents.” Private? NBC Olympics executive Gary Zenkel’s email address listed in the tweet has been made public before since it has the nbcuni.com handle.

Responding to the suspension in The Independent, Adams took offense at NBC and Twitter’s special relationship, saying, “[It’s] quite worrying that NBC, whose parent company is an Olympic sponsor, is apparently trying (and, in this case, succeeding) in shutting down the Twitter accounts of journalists who are critical of their Olympic coverage.” Basically, what he’s conveying is that it’s censorship at its best.

However, on Tuesday, Twitter reinstated his account and Adams is free to tweet as many #NBCfails as he pleases. He even got an apology as well for their #fail, which they said was “not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us.” But for many of us in the social media community, it’s too little, too late.

An apology to Guy Adams isn’t enough to rebuild that trust with Twitter users because the company’s partnership with NBC during the Olympics makes any of us a potential target. When I heard that he got suspended from Twitter, I thought I was going to be next. How are we allowed to make critical, reasonable judgments about a company’s performance on social media when we are clearly in their crosshairs?

NBC and Twitter’s colossal failure in PR symbolizes the hypersensitive attitude that these corporations have on differing opinions. People, within reason, will make waves if they see that something is wrong, and it’s the companies’ responsibility to listen or not to listen. It’s not their right to suspend anyone that has followed the rules just because it hurts their ego.

Whether you agreed with Adams’ opinions or not, it is clear that he was within reason to make his complaints against the #NBCFail and posting the email address of Zenkel. If Twitter is really sorry, it should live by its apology and ensure that should anyone have to face suspension or expulsion from the site, it should be because of serious harassment of the person and not because of their position of power or opinion.

While I’m happy that Guy Adams can regale his readers at The Independent with sordid tales of Los Angeles and the epic mistakes of NBC executives, Twitter must respect reasonable opinions no matter which company they bed with at any moment.