Twitter Chooses Profit Over Free Speech in Olympics Censoring Scandal

This week, we met a new side of Twitter. The old, sweet, and reliable Twitter that has changed how we get our news, helped with activism, and altered the face of elections has finally shown us its corporate side.

This Tuesday, Twitter suspended the account of British journalist Guy Adams for publishing a tweet that stated, “The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think! Email: Gary.zenkel@nbcuni.com.” Twitter apologized for the matter, but the damage had already been done.

Twitter does state in its policy that users should not post an individual’s private e-mail address. However, the e-mail address in question was Zenkel’s work address, which isn’t private. Twitter also was first to make NBC aware of this tweet and encouraged them to file a complaint. Twitter now claims that they made a mistake, but this action reminded all Twitter users that Twitter is a business, and their corporate sponsors come first.

This move seems strange from Twitter, which stood up for Malcolm Harris a little over a month ago when the government ordered that three months worth of his tweets be given up. Twitter went from number one advocate for the privacy and freedom of their users, to the giant tattletale that ran to a sponsor so that they could stay on the good side of NBC. 

Money talks.

No matter how outraged we are about this incident, Twitter is a private company, and it looked out for its own interests. NBC and the Olympics have given way to great amounts of traffic through Twitter, and will continue to do so until the end of the games. If Twitter wants to continue to rise to the top, they are going to need big corporate sponsors to help them along the way.

On the other hand, users are what drive Twitter. Without their users, their free services would be non-existent and there would be no need for any corporate sponsors. What makes Twitter such a great advertising tool for NBC, the Olympics, and any other sponsor are how users handle their Twitter feeds. Limiting users for corporate sponsors is shady business.

Twitter has always been labeled as the social media outlet for the masses, not a moneymaking empire like Facebook. Freedom of speech was always one of Twitter’s main priorities, until now. This act is a first for Twitter, and may have dented some of the optimism and awe that users have had for the company. This might have been the last time for Twitter to act out against users, but there is still plenty more time left in the Olympic Games to prove otherwise.