Tag Archives: timespublicedit

Twitter Snitches Get No Twitter Stitches

The Guy Adams/NBC/Twitter flap angered a lot of people, but if I’m allowed to have a moment of emotional narcissism, I’ve found it more infuriating than most. The incident not only echoes nonsense I went through not too long ago, but makes said nonsense seem even more weird and gross in retrospect.

In case you don’t know about this tale, here’s the short version: Guy Adams, Los Angeles bureau chief for the English newspaper the Independent, wrote a series of tweets ripping NBC a new Costas-hole for its terrible Olympics coverage. Shortly thereafter, his Twitter account was suspended. Twitter told him he’d been suspended because he’d tweeted a private email address of an NBC exec. In truth, the email address Adams posted was readily available to the public. Therefore, the email reason seemed a flimsy excuse to suspend a vocal critic of NBC, which is officially partnering with Twitter for these Olympics. Adams’ account was restored after he issued an “apology,” but not before it was revealed that it was Twitter who initially blew the whistle on him to NBC, not the other way around.

I went through something similar a month ago with my parody account @TimesPublicEdit, albeit for slightly different reasons and on a far smaller scale. Basically, a few news orgs mistook the account for the real New York Times public editor and reported one of my tweets as coming from him. Like Adams, I was never informed my account was suspended. Like Adams, I quickly found out that Twitter’s procedures for dealing with suspensions is to shoot and ask questions later; upon receipt of a complaint, they will both assume you are guilty and leave it up to you to figure out how to rectify the situation. Also like Adams, the burden was put on me to prove my contrition for an offense I didn’t commit. (In my case, that offense was “attempting to mislead” people, which was not even remotely my intent.)

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How to Wind Up in Twitter Jail, Starring @TimesPublicEdit

I am @TimesPublicEdit.

I didn’t work all that hard to keep this quiet, but I never formally announced it, mostly because I didn’t think anyone was waiting with baited breath trying to puzzle out the secret. The reason I’m “revealing” this now is because, well, it’s already revealed via a post by Kat Stoeffel at the New York Observer today. That post was written because of the odd events of the last week involving the account, which began with a tweet last Monday.

This tweet was RT’ed and faved to an extent far beyond my wildest imaginings. It was also assumed to be the work of the actual New York Times‘ public editor by some news outlets that failed to perform a few extra seconds of due diligence. A formal complaint against the account (from whom, I don’t know) led to a suspension for being an “imposter” account.

After a week on the shelf, the account is back in action. I’m pretty fortunate in this regard; suspended accounts tend to stay that way indefinitely, or so Google tells me. However, I thought recounting what happened to @TimesPublicEdit might serve as a cautionary tale to other Twitter parodists, or just anybody who wants to build any kind of body of work on Twitter. Because you have to remember that anything you do there can be wiped out without warning, and that this is the risk you take when you scribble on someone else’s real estate.

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