Mike Isaac

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Twitter Adds Another Ex-Googler and First Amendment Vet to Its Legal Team

Twitter’s legal team has grown by one, as former Google deputy general counsel Nicole Wong joins the microblogging service.

Wong, who announced her new position via Twitter, will serve as legal director for the company.

Wong joins a number of former Googlers on the legal team, including general counsel Alex MacGillivray, and recent new hire associate counsel Amy Keating.

It’s likely Wong was chosen in part for her extensive background on issues of free speech, a topic Twitter’s legal team has continuously and increasingly dealt with in recent years. As detailed in a profile on her from the New York Times Magazine in 2008, Wong and colleagues worked deeply with First Amendment issues at Google’s YouTube unit.

As the article noted at the time, “Google [gave] Nicole Wong a central role in the company’s decision-making process about what controversial user-generated content goes down or stays up on YouTube and other applications owned by Google.”

Also of note: Wong has experience in testifying before congress and being the target of public heat. She played a key role during ongoing litigation issues of censorship between China and Google in 2010, wherein Google no longer agreed to continue censoring search results for Chinese Google users.

General counsel MacGillivray, who leads Twitter’s legal team, is widely respected among privacy advocates in the industry, and hailed as a smart and valuable hire. But Wong’s addition brings polish and experience navigating D.C. to the table, something seen as increasingly valuable as Twitter’s service expands to more than 140 million active users, and the company grows into its global presence.

Twitter’s own struggles with free speech cases are well documented. The company is currently in the midst of litigation with the State of New York over Twitter data from one Malcolm Harris, an Occupy Wall Street protestor charged with disorderly conduct “after allegedly marching on the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge,” the court documents state.

Twitter also continues to contest outside requests for Twitter data by government agencies, and publishes a continuously updated tally of how many requests the company has received, organized by country.

Wong began her first day at Twitter on Monday.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald