Isn’t the idea behind social media to foster and encourage communications between people? To enable the expression of ideas, news, connection, and allow people to explain what they had for lunch?
If that’s true, it would seem a bad idea to stop anyone from joining in. So, while the social networks will have rules for acceptable behavior, it would seem that banning one person for an offense but not another for the same offense would imply that the service isn’t open or even-handed. And that is exactly what Twitter has done.
The ban was of Los Angeles-based Guy Adams, a correspondent for The Independent, a London-based daily newspaper. Adams, who has been extremely critical of NBC’s Olympic coverage (which has, by any reasonable measure, been terrible), tweeted the email address of NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel (which isn’t hard to find) encouraging users to complain and in doing so contravened Twitter’s posting rules.
As Forbes reporter Kashmir Hill commented:
I do think it’s interesting that Adams has been banned for doing something less egregious than what was done by musician M.I.A. in the past. Two years back, M.I.A. was upset about a profile written about her in the New York Times Magazine, so she tweeted the cell phone number of the journalist who had written it and encouraged her hundreds of thousands of followers to call it. Perhaps the journalist was not as proactive as NBC in complaining about the posting of her private information, because M.I.A. was not subject to the same treatment as Adams.
Given Adams’ public visibility, you would have thought that Twitter management would have, at the most, warned him but and somewhat revealingly they chose to suspend his account.
What I find concerning about this is that the protagonists here are a respectable journalist and a mega-corporation. Who won? Yep, with Twitter’s compliance, it was the corporation.
NBC, somewhat disingenuously, according to Reuters, declared
Nice! The argument “It wasn’t us, it was Twitter … we’re innocent!” is a fantastic ploy.
And this is what will kill the real power of social media.
When corporations can call the shots and the social media providers swing into action to comply all that’s left of social media is a hollow shell of everyday chat and and the blather of pop culture. Serious thinking, serious criticism, and serious commentary apparently will only be tolerated when the guys with the big bucks aren’t offended.
Shame on Twitter. They could have simply warned Adams and deleted the offending tweet but nope, they not only suspended his account, they also made all of his tweets invisible.
This is how the social networks will kill the Golden Goose of Social Media … not only are they not profitable, they also, like Twitter, may choose to not be truly open or fair-handed.
The phrase ”corporate stooge” comes to mind.