Many are qualifying for the Olympics tweet heat

It’s the nature of the job: GMSV has watched the controversy over tweets and the Olympics more than the sports. And now we throw caution to the wind — and risk the wrath of the International Olympics Committee — and dub these summer games the Twitter Olympics. From Twitter fails to protests (by the athletes themselves, over sponsorships) to controversies, the San Francisco-based microblogging service has been the star of the show so far.

• The talker du jour is the suspension of a Twitter’s journalist account, which seems to have been influenced by NBC and Twitter’s Olympics partnership. A PR nightmare now faces both, but bigger questions surround Twitter. After all, CEO Dick Costolo has called his company the “free speech wing of the free speech party.”

Independent correspondent Guy Adams was critical of NBC’s Olympics coverage and used Twitter to say so. One of his tweets read: “The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think!” Adams then included Zenkel’s work email address. NBC, which said it filed an official complaint after reportedly being alerted to the tweets by Twitter itself, said distributing Zenkel’s email address violated Twitter’s rules. But Adams says, according to the New York Times, “I didn’t publish a private e-mail address. Just a corporate one, which is widely available to anyone with access to Google, and is identical [in form] to one that all of the tens of thousands of NBC Universal employees share.” After taking a look at Twitter’s policy, most reasonable people would probably agree with Adams.

GMSV has emailed Twitter for comment. Twitter told the NYT it doesn’t comment about individual users.

Twitter is, of course, a free service and a business that can choose to do what it wants. But over the years, it has cultivated an image that has earned it the respect of many journalists and other supporters of free speech. Among other things, it has fought the U.S. government’s request to divulge information about users with ties to whistleblower website WikiLeaks. (Also see Trending: Praise for Twitter after it stands up for a user’s rights.)

Media critic Dan Gillmor writes for the Guardian that if the service doesn’t reinstate the journalist’s account, “this is a defining moment for Twitter. It will have demonstrated that it can be bullied by its business partners into acts that damage its credibility and ultimately the reason so many of us use it as a platform.”

• Another Olympian has been kicked out over a racist tweet. This time, a Swiss soccer player tweeted something that “discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korea football team as well as the South Korean people,” Swiss Olympic team chief Gian Gilli reportedly said. Last week, a track star was expelled from the Greek Olympic team over her tweet about African immigrants in her country. (See Quoted: on the dangers of tweeting, the Olympics version.)

• Last — at least for now — a teenager has been arrested over tweets he directed to an Olympic athlete, British diver Tom Daley. The teen reportedly tweeted to Daley that he had “let down [his] father,” who died last year. The Guardian has rounded up some of the teen’s subsequent tweets afterward, some of which include profanity and threats.


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