Twitter has issued an apology after it emerged that it was its team that is "working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership" which alerted the broadcaster to a tweet by Independent journalist Guy Adams said to have breached its rules, which then saw the reporter's account suspended after a complaint was filed with its trust and safety team.
Adams's account was suspended after the journalist, who is the Independent's Los Angeles correspondent, posted a tweet containing the email address of NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel, which also followed a series of posts critical of the US broadcaster's coverage of the Olympics.
Twitter states in its rules that users "may not publish or post other people's private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, street address or social security/national identity numbers, without their express authorisation and permission", but Adams said the email address in question was "a corporate address ... which is widely listed online".
In a statement published on its blog late yesterday Twitter reiterated its usual "general trust and safety policies and procedures" and what it then requires from users in order to put accounts back online.
The statement adds that "if we receive a notice from the complainant rescinding their original complaint", then the account will also be "unsuspended".
Addressing the issue of whether a corporate email address is private, Twitter states that its "trust and safety team does not have insight into the use of every user’s email address, and we need a policy that we can implement across all of our users in every instance".
However, it confirmed that in this case the matter was actually flagged up by its own staff, by "the team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership", despite it having a policy to "not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are".
"We want to apologise 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.
"Our trust and safety team did not know that part of the story and acted on the report as they would any other."
In the apology, Alex Macgillivray, general counsel at Twitter, added: "As I stated earlier, we do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are. This behaviour 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."
In an Independent article Adams also said he received an email from Twitter in which it also confirmed that NBC had retracted its complaint.