Twitter has finally addressed its role in a growing scandal over its decision to zap the account of a U.K. journalist who had been critical of NBC’s Olympics coverage.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Twitter’s general counsel Alex McGillivray issued a blog post describing how Twitter handles situation in which users post the personal information of other people.
Most significantly, McGillivray’s post also apologized for Twitter’s decision to tell NBC to file a complaint about the journalist, Guy Adams of The Independent:
That said, we want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up. The team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership did proactively identify a Tweet that was in violation of the Twitter Rules and encouraged them to file a support ticket with our Trust and Safety team to report the violation, as has now been reported publicly. [..]
As I stated earlier, 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.
This appears to be the end of part one of a controversy in which Twitter, which has been a champion of free speech and transparency, appeared to break its own principles in order to champion a corporate interest.
For more background, see: Twitter restores reporter’s account, tweet with NBC e-mail remains
And to learn about its significance for the media and for Twitter, see my colleague Mathew Ingram’s insightful take: Twitter at a Cross Roadroads: Economic Value vs. Information Value