Yesterday I wrote about the attempt some companies and organizations have been making at limiting and withholding whatever they can on social media. So imagine my shock and frustration when I learned that Twitter, an actual social media platform, has been doing the same thing!
What am I talking about?
I’m talking about Twitter’s attempt to wrongfully silence journalist Guy Adams for voicing his discontent with NBC for their constant #fails in covering the 2012 Olympics.
Adams tweeted about the lot of #NBCfails and included the corporate email address of Gary Zenkel, the NBC executive in charge of the network’s Olympic coverage, asking his followers to send Zenkel an email. Shortly after this, Adams discovered that his Twitter account had been suspended on account of him violating Twitter’s terms stating that tweets are not to contain the private information of other users, though what Adams tweeted was Zenkel’s corporate information, which is easily accessible throughout the web.
As the story unfolded further, we learned that NBC had not been the one to initially see Adams’ tweet, that Twitter had in fact seen it first and contacted NBC’s social media department asking them if they would like to submit a formal complaint against Adams, and guiding them through the process.
“If what NBC is saying is true, it undermines everything that Twitter stands for and is an absolute disgrace and will aggravate many millions of its users,” Adams told The Daily Telegraph.
“Their whole corporate ethos is that they never interfere with the flow of tweets. Something has gone very very wrong here.”
It’s a sad day when you discover that a social media platform is abusing its power and defeating the whole point behind social media, because they, as Adams put it, “ are in some sort cahoots” with another brand.
*Note: Yesterday evening, Twitter restored Adams’ account and released an official statement and apology. See the bottom of this post for the full update.
What is going on?
Some big companies, organizations and now social media channels themselves are beginning to censor and bully on social media – and this is unacceptable behaviour. As many social media users do, I believe and advocate free speech, the voice of the people, open and honest communications and a network of platforms that enable every single person to those rights – not bully, censor or hypocritically attempt to erase the voices of those who contradict them.
Social media crisis communications 101: Do not delete negative comments simply because they oppose you. Twitter has teamed up with NBC for the Olympic coverage and apparently their own rules and ethics had flown out the window…Which leads me to another question:
Should social media platforms be permitted to team up with other companies or organizations in such a way, or should it fall under the category of the journalistic ethics that state that there should be a wall between the editorial and advertising departments?
What if it happens to you?
Considering for a moment that this type of behaviour will continue to happen, from time to time, down the road, what can you and I do to protect ourselves from falling victims to this sort of bullying – and not allow ourselves to lose our voice in the process?
- Don’t rely on one social channel – because as we’ve seen, it’s quite easy to get locked out and lose your voice.
- Build up your following on channels that you have complete control over, i.e. your blog, and do so by means of email subscriptions where and when possible.
- Stand together and stand strong. Social media is about community, honesty, individual voices and communications. We should not allow for this type of bullying to take place – and it won’t, if we decide to not let it.
Update on Guy Adams’ Twitter suspension: Twitter unsuspended Adam’s account yesterday, in the early evening and released this statement as their official statement to the issue. Within this statement they state that:
“we do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are. This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us. We should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is — whether a business partner, celebrity or friend. As of earlier today, the account has been unsuspended, and we will actively work to ensure this does not happen again.”
I, for one, was quite glad to read this and can only hope that they have learned their lesson and keep to their word. Either way, we’re glad to have you back, Guy!
What do you think of this whole issue / situation? I’ve posed a number of questions within this post, and I know you have some thoughts on the subject! I welcome you to share your thoughts with me below.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.