Guy Adams, the Los Angeles-based correspondent for The Independent of London, was recently banned from Twitter after he tweeted out the e-mail address of a high-ranking NBC executive. In a brief interview on Monday afternoon, Adams said very little.
Over the course of a few hours, his policy about-faced. Adams huddled with his editor and agreed that there was no reason to keep quiet about Twitter’s disapproval. “We both believe strongly that actually we’re not in the wrong, we’ve done nothing wrong and that therefore to a degree we should come out fighting on this,” he said.
By “fighting,” Adams may be talking about this comment he made about why the NBC executive whose e-mail he divulged — Gary Zenkel — would be so (apparently) upset: “If he really doesn’t want to hear from his viewers, I’m afraid he’s in the wrong job,” said Adams. “What senior figure ignores justified compalints about the job they’re doing?” Zenkel’s title is “president, NBC Olympics, executive vice president, strategic partnerships.”
This comment, about NBC, could also be “fighting” words: “I think we know that NBC is an institutionally incompetent organization because they’re consistently last in the ratings among major networks.”
Deadspin called Adams NBC’s “No. 1 Tweeting critic.” Make that No. 1 talking critic as well.
Good stuff, but we already knew Adams’ views on NBC. What’s next for him and his Twitter account? He doesn’t quite know. The reactivation of his Twitter account requires him to work his way through a special interface on the Twitter site. The information that it demands isn’t to Adams’s liking. “My understanding is that the process involves me accepting that I’ve done something wrong — that I’ve committed a breach of Twitter rules and that I won’t do it again,” he said.
Agreeing to such a condition, Adams said, would set a “dangerous precedent,” because he thinks Twitter shouldn’t “be in the business of what you can and cannot say.” By no means does Adams accept the premise that his tweet violated Twitter’s rules against sending out personal e-mail addresses; he sent out only Zenkel’s corporate address, which conforms with a common NBC formula applicable to thousands of other employees.
The situation is sticky enough to have exhausted the capabilities of electronic communication. Adams says that he’s been “trying to get a hold of somone at Twitter who will actually speak with me,” but he hasn’t yet succeeded. “I don’t want to admit that I’ve done something wrong without going through the permutations of that with Twitter,” he says.
“I would suggest the common-sense thing would be to call them up. I can explain my position. They can explain their position, and we can accept each other’s positions,” he proposed. Twitter, suggested Adams, has every impetus to settle the matter, given the impression emitted by its banning him. NBC is a key partner for the social-media site in these Olympic games, and NBC sources have confirmed that they raised the issue of Adams’s e-mail-identifying tweet. “Whether they have or haven’t done a favor to a corporate partner, they have given the impression that they’ve done favors to a corporate partner in this process,” Adams said.
Nor did this controversy have to live this long. “If NBC wasn’t so arrogant and had called me up on Friday afternoon and said, ‘Look, old boy, we consider this private information, and would you delete this tweet,” Adams said he likely would have complied.
Then again, maybe he would have just tweeted about it.