I recently tweeted that if I could work for any social media company it would be Twitter. Really, given my love for social media, I’d likely work for almost anyone, but Twitter easily tops the list. Why? Because they actually have integrity and some pretty smart lawyers and geeks running it. What’s my evidence? That is the subject of my blog today.
In case you missed it, NBC’s coverage of the Olympics has been getting a lot of negative reactions. Guy Adams, a journalist for The Independent, took to twitter to criticize the network’s lame coverage. However, when he tweeted the email address of an NBC exec, his twitter account was suspended. Twitter immediately came under attack because they have partnered with NBC for the Olympics and the suspension was seen as strong-arming from their business partner. Subsequently, Twitter released this statement: http://blog.twitter.com/2012/07/our-approach-to-trust-safety-and.html. The statement itself is well worth reading. It is well-crafted and clear. It is written by Alex Macgillivray, General Counsel for Twitter.
The upshot of the statement is that they were simply following their own protocols for suspending an account. This blog (http://www.buzzfeed.com/mattbuchanan/twitters-sorta-kinda-apology-for-suspending-journ) criticizes them for never apologizing to Adams or journalists in general for damaging their trust in freedom of speech on Twitter... It also accuses twitter (badly) for “fudging” their own rules. Unlike Twitter’s blog post, I don’t really recommend the one on BuzzFeed by Mark Buchanan.
I will include the last paragraph of Buchanan’s blog here. Maybe it’s just bad writing or I’m missing his point, but he seems to be missing the point- at least as I read the tone of his article.
Here’s the paragraph:
“Quite simply, Twitter never wants to be responsible for pro-actively monitoring content. That's why it requires reports for every violation. That's why it keeps emphasizing it was following the rules. That's why it's apologizing. It wants the precedent that this has set — monitoring a tweet and then acting upon a violation — to be erased, because it wants never to have that responsibility on its hands, no matter who asks, whether it's a celebrity or corporate partner, or perhaps more crucially, the government. So as far as Twitter is concerned, potentially screwing up that precious arrangement is really the only thing it did wrong. And it's real sorry about that.”
Twitter has been very steadfast in refusing to release tweets which have been subpoenaed. They have repeatedly stated that all tweets belong to the originator, not themselves. Along with refusing to “monitor content”, these are important precedents that Twitter is setting – all of which will result in more freedom for the majority of users on the Internet. Governments would like nothing more than to download responsibility for monitoring and policing the Internet to ISP providers and anyone else they can rope into doing it, so they don’t have to, including the likes of Twitter, YouTube, Google, and so on.
So yes. Twitter did suspend Adams’ account until they could investigate because there had been a complaint. And they re-instated him as soon as they did investigate. All according to their current policy. A policy which walks the tightrope between protecting privacy and allowing free speech.
And that's why I love Twitter. So far, they are getting it a lot more right than anybody else.