THE BLOG
08/06/2012 09:18 am ET Updated Oct 06, 2012

Freedom of Speech Doesn't Mean a Thing to Twitter -- Or Does It?

I'm warning you -- if you like to tweet, don't criticize NBC. Your Twitter account will be suspended. It happened to Guy Adams and it can happen to you, too.

Guy Adams was recently suspended from Twitter for tweeting his disappointment in NBC delaying the Olympic games coverage. But what really caused the issue is that Adams encouraged his followers to email an NBC executive and express their disappointment. But he took it a step further: He included the email of Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics.

And next thing Adams knows is that his Twitter account is suspended. There was no explanation, other than a generic response stating: "Your Twitter account has been suspended for posting an individual's private information such as private email address."

So let's think about this. Now, say you tweeted out my email address and asked your followers to email their disappointment, for say, a blog post I wrote. Can I report you to Twitter and have your account suspended? Technically speaking, yes. So then we wonder why a generation full of social media aren't critical thinkers.

What Adams did only encouraged positive discussion -- something we aren't used to but we should be. But it is incidents like this that discourage thinking critically. Adams didn't encourage his followers to do anything illegal, he only encouraged them to engage in a discussion. That's it.

Even Barack Obama opposes Internet censorship and encourages students to practice freedom of expression and political participation.

But maybe Twitter isn't so evil? Twitter has since unsuspended Adams' Twitter account, without citing any specific reason. However, earlier this week, Twitter, in the form of Alex Macgillivray, General Counsel for Twitter, issued this blog post in response to the large amount of criticism in relation to this issue.

But let's not forget Twitter's famous blog post from last year, titled "The Tweets Must Flow." This blog post, co-written by Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, and Macgillivray, states that: "Our goal is to instantly connect people everywhere to what is most meaningful to them. For this to happen, freedom of expression is essential." However, they go on to state that "Our position on freedom of expression carries with it a mandate to protect our users' right to speak freely and preserve their ability to contest having their private information revealed."

However, in an interview on CNN, Adams stated that he found Zenkel's email address on Google where it was publicly available.

Right now, I think it's safe to say that Gary Zenkel, the NBC executive at the center of this controversy, has changed his email.

Let's hope that Twitter has learned from their "mess up."

So what do you think? Does one's right to freedom of speech override Twitter's policy on users tweeting 'personal' information? Tweet me: @PatrickMott.