The move by social networking platform Twitter to suspend the account of Independent journalist Guy Adams has been heavily criticized by several media outlets and freedom of speech advocates.
It all started when British journalist Adams criticized NBC’s faux pas filled commentary of the London 2012 Olympics. Adams was not the only one to notice this, several other writers pointed out the flurry of mistakes and errors made by the anchors, including the nonchalant way in which they admitted that they did not know who Tim Berners-Lee was and several other boobs.
As well as elaborating on his thoughts about the failings of the network, Adams tweeted the corporate email address of a company executive and because of this, had his account suspended.
Adams posted his correspondence with Twitter regarding the matter, where they claim that he published a private email address. The address that Adams tweeted was nothing of the sort, he obtained it from NBC’s website, where it had been sitting openly for over a year.
So why then would Twitter, who prior to this incident, had quite a good reputation for dealing with complaints about users tweets and protecting their right to freedom of expression, behave in this manner?
It has been suggested that Twitter suspended Adams account because they have partnered with NBC for the Olympics. It was NBC’s complaint that led to Adams’ suspension, suggesting that perhaps the platform isn’t quite as independent as it would like us to believe and can be bullied by its corporate sponsors.
If this is the case, then it bodes ominously for the future of the platform. It proves to users that corporate sponsorships are more important than our right to express our opinions. The Guardian’s Dan Gilmore points out that if Twitter does not reverse the decision to suspend Adams’ account it will be an incredibly bad move.
“this is a defining moment for Twitter. It will have demonstrated that it can be bullied by its business partners into acts that damage its credibility and ultimately the reason so many of us use it as a platform. And if that’s the case, there will be much less incentive to use it.”
If, like Gilmore also pointed out could be the case, the Adams suspension occurred because of the erring of trigger-fingered Twitter employee rather than because of the demands of NBC, then the move is slightly more forgivable, but only if Twitter realize their mistake and reinstate Adams’ account immediately!
There is little point of the platform standing up to government and security services numerous fishing expeditions on the site, if they are going to bend over backwards and play subservient to one of their sponsors because they couldn’t handle a little bit of criticism aimed at them!