The appeal of Twitter is obvious for celebrities, athletes, and politicians who want to communicate with their fans in an unfiltered way. Sarah Palin, for example, taps the social networking site to circumvent what she considers the bias of the "lamestream media." But with the opportunity to broadcast your thoughts to multitudes comes the potential for enormous gaffes — as the famous have found out the hard way:
Tweet: "Love My New Chanel Purse I Got Today :)"
What happened: Arrested earlier this month while carrying a Chanel bag containing cocaine, the heiress initially claimed the purse wasn't hers. Unfortunately for Hilton, she'd tweeted a photo of the contested purse, pithily celebrating her love for it. The party princess ended up pleading guilty this week, and was sentenced to a $2,000 fine and 200 hours of community service. (Watch Hilton discuss her love for Twitter)
Tweet: "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah... One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot"
What happened: Nasr, a veteran CNN Middle East news editor, lost her job in July after she mourned the death of a Lebanese Shi'ite cleric on her Twitter account. Supporters of Israel were outraged at Nasr's eulogizing of one of the founders of militant group Hezbollah. This is what happens, said Jack Shafer at Slate, when you try to "express complex views... in a simplistic forum."
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)
Tweet: "Just landed in Baghdad. I believe it may be first time I’ve had [Blackberry] service in Iraq. 11th trip here"
What happened: A secret congressional trip to Iraq in February, 2009, became abruptly public after Michigan lawmaker Hoekstra updated followers with a stream of tweets detailing his itinerary — in clear violation of security protocol. The congressman got into Twitter trouble again later that year — after a tweet comparing protestors in Iran to House Republicans earned him mockery from liberal critics.
Tweet: "Therre (sic) is something very cool about being here"
What happened: The "Today" Show's jovial weatherman posted this tweet with a photo from inside a New York City courthouse while on jury duty in June, 2009. Alas, as TMZ quickly pointed out, broadcasting pictures of jurors or court proceedings without specific permission is "a big no-no." Roker responded on Twitter: "I am NOT taking pictures in the courtroom. I am in the jury lounge. So folks need to lighten up."
Tweet: "No wife is blind enough to miss that much infidelity…Elin had 2 b a willing participant on the ride 4 whatever reason"
What happened: The rubber-faced comedian was blasted by fans after he tweeted his opinions on the Tiger Woods affair earlier this year just days after announcing his own divorce from actress Jenny McCarthy. "Jim Carrey may be the last celebrity on earth who should become a Twitter addict," said Owen Glieberman at Entertainment Weekly. "His personality is too large to be accommodated by tweets."
Tweet: "EWW I'm at lunch, the woman the table next 2 me is breast feeding her baby w no coverup"
What happened: After Kardashian's Twitter followers rebelled at her perceived slight against breast-feeding mothers this June, the reality TV star protested: "My sister breast feeds! It's a natural beautiful thing, there's nothing wrong w it, but she covers herself." The "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" star, said Neil Katz at CBS News, "may not be keeping up with the latest trends in breast feeding... lactavists are a force to be reckoned with."
Tweet: "What's the difference between selling out your party's values and the oldest profession?"
What happened: Joe Miller's battle with Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary for Alaska's senate seat turned nasty after he compared her to a prostitute on his Twitter feed. The Tea Party favorite blamed a staffer for the gaffe, and apologized to his opponent. It made no difference to the outcome, though: Miller beat the incumbent senator by a slim margin in the August 2010 primary.
Tweet: "Congrats to all the dirty Mexicans in San Antonio"
What happened: The former major league pitcher-turned-Dallas area talkshow host was fired by his station, KTCK, this April after his tweet about the San Antonio Spurs' NBA victory over the Dallas Mavericks provoked charges of racism. "Apparently we live in an age when people fail to understand that the internet does not live solely in our minds," said Steve Tarlow at MoneyBlog.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
Subscribe to the Week