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#NBCFail: Twitter Bans British Journalist for Bashing NBC Olympics Coverage

The Independent's Guy Adams has twitter posts pulled and suffers "suspension" from social media site after critical "tweets"

Common Dreams staff

Some speculated that NBC had asked Twitter to remove Adams's account after critical tweets. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

UPDATE (7/31/12 at 11:02 am EST): From the Telegraph/UK:

... an email to The Daily Telegraph, Christopher McCloskey, NBC Sport’s vice-president of communications, said Twitter had actually contacted the network’s social media department to alert them to Mr Adams’s tweets.

“Our social media dept was actually alerted to it by Twitter and then we filled out the form and submitted it,” he wrote.

An email asking for further detail and whether this was normal Twitter policy was not returned from NBC or Twitter.


A foreign correspondent for one of the UK's most widely read newspapers has been "suspended" by the social media network Twitter after the foreign correspondent posted tweets critical of the NBC coverage of Olympics now being held in London.

In a statement, NBC confirmed it filed a complaint against Adams with Twitter, saying: "We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives."

Guy Adams, who writes for The Independent and is based in Los Angeles, said his tweets do not violate Twitter's privacy policy. 

"I'm of course happy to abide by Twitter's rules, now and forever," Adam's wrote to Rachel Bremer, Twitter's head of European PR. "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. It's no more "private" than the address I'm emailing you from right now. Either way, [it's] quite worrying that NBC, whose parent company are an Olympic sponsor, are apparently trying (and, in this case, succeeding) in shutting down the Twitter accounts of journalists who are critical of their Olympic coverage."

Still as of Monday evening, if you try to click on @guyadams from Twitter, the message comes up: "Sorry, that user is suspended."

Telling his side of the story in a post late Monday, Adams writes:

On Friday afternoon, like every resident of America, I was not watching the Olympic opening ceremony.

Instead, I was sat at home, quietly fuming at the fact that NBC, the US network which purchased rights to the entire Games, had come to the conclusion that it would be a good idea delay broadcast of this global news event until the evening prime-time, roughly nine hours after it had finished.

This being the era of Twitter, I did not have to suffer in silence. At around 2pm, I began posting a series of messages complaining about the company’s hugely-cynical policy. One of them suggested that frustrated viewers voice their complaints to Mr Gary Zenkel, the President of NBC Olympics.

“The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven't started yet is Gary Zenkel,” read the Tweet. “Tell him what u think!” It then contained Mr Zenkel’s work email address.

A few dozen people “re-Tweeted” the update over the ensuing hours. Several of them used the “hashtag” #NBCFail, which, thanks to the broadcaster’s comically inept coverage of the London games, has since been a trending topic on the microblogging site.

Later that afternoon, I was invited on the Los Angeles talk radio station KNX 1070 to discuss the absence of live coverage of the ceremony. If I remember correctly, I declared myself “utterly outraged” during that two-minute interview, saying with only a hint of understatement that NBC was: “treating the people of America with contempt.”

The Guardian adds:

Twitter's terms and conditions state that users must not post private email addresses, unless they are already available on the internet. Adams said the email was not a private one but a corporate account, and that Zenkel's address is identical in form to thousands of other NBC employees.

The offending tweet was not the only one critical of NBC. Some of Adams's comments fall in the camp of caustic criticism:

"America's left coast forced to watch Olympic ceremony on SIX HOUR time delay. Disgusting money-grabbing by @NBColympics"

And some arguably went further than that:

"I have 1000 channels on my TV. Not one will be showing the Olympics opening ceremony live. Because NBC are utter, utter bastards."

In a piece published by the Independent the reporter said that NBC's decision to delay transmission of the Games so that it could maximise its advertising revenue in primetime had sparked "ridicule from TV critics and outrage from the US public".

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