The potential social media has for the future of communication and conversation has indeed struck a resonance with a variety of communities around the world.
The potential social media has for the future of communication and conversation has indeed struck a resonance with a variety of communities around the world. Therefore there was shock and controversy when it emerged that the Twitter account of the Independent newspaper journalist Guy Adams had been suspended.
No one knew what to make of it. It was the first incident of its kind. Adams had his account suspended after criticism of the Olympics coverage of the broadcaster NBC, which holds the rights to the Games in the United States. NBC tape delayed coverage of events (including the opening ceremony) and had content in the ceremony that raised eyebrows, including a commentator not knowing who Sir Tim Berners-Lee was, other commentators making jokes at the expense of other Olympic teams, and removing a tribute to victims of the 7/7 bombings in London, showing an interview with the swimmer Michael Phelps conducted by personality Ryan Seacrest in its place.
Adams’ account has been unsuspended as of this writing, and Twitter has apologised for the incident. “This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us,” said Alex Macgillivray, Twitter’s general counsel, writing on the social networking site’s corporate blog. “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.” A personal apology also appeared from Chloe Sladden, Twitter’s vice president of media, in her personal feed, according to a report from The New York Times.
Since its founding six years ago, the little blue bird has always been known to promote free speech, as it remains in the network’s core values. During the course of the Arab Spring and now the crisis in Syria, a number of tweets have come through which allowed the wider community to view a picture of the events that would change the lives of many. Even outside of the Arab Spring there are other conversations going on, whether it is current events or the announcement that Team GB got its first gold medal in rowing. Journalists have also used Twitter to interact with their audience and to expand content.
The interest in Twitter is still strong. As the conversations in 140 characters become themselves an art form, its influence in social media is still key and it still remains a destination for a live conversation on a number of topics, including criticism of NBC and Olympics coverage.
The trust in Twitter may have taken a beating as a result of this incident, but users still tweet, continuing conversations. The trust that users put into Twitter will continue, because after all, a conversation, regardless of platform, is still a conversation.