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Twitter is almost synonymous with the news, with breaking news updates often being posted there first as well as helping to build up the public profile of any celebrity, company or just an average Joe. There have been some momentous tweets, such as the announcement that ice had been found on Mars, the first signs of the Navy Seals raid on Osama Bin Laden, or the tweet that reunited a homeless man with his estranged daughter.

However, with the good must come the bad – and there really have been some terrible tweets, some through misunderstandings, some accidental, but most simply through errors in judgement.

10. Charlie Gasparino And Barry Ritholtz Tumultuous Twitter War

Slanging matches are not uncommon on the internet – but it seems the playground mentality of ‘having the last word’ stretches even into the world of senior business as prominent blogger and investor Barry Ritzholtz and senior correspondent at Fox’s Business News network, Charlie Gasparino engaged in a Twitter war. It was ugly, unnecessary and immature – but altogether a very common theme on Twitter – see Here, Here and Here.

9. Gilbert Gottfried Japan Tweets

[Tweet not pictured due to insensitivity – LINK HERE]

Inexplicably famous comedian Gilbert Gottfried first came to fame on the set of Saturday Night Live, but in the 2000s, became known for controversial humour, making one of the first 9/11 jokes to a response of boos and jeers. But Gottfried wasn’t done there and took to Twitter to make a series of vulgar, insensitive and unnecessary jokes about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan – he was fired as the voice of the ‘Aflac Duck’ and has had no notable work since.

8. Charlie Sheen/Justin Bieber

If you want a private lifestyle, it’s not a great idea to post your telephone number onto a public stream with millions of followers. Clearly this slipped the mind of human trainwreck Charlie Sheen. Bieber performed a similar gaffe when he posted his telephone number missing the last digit, leading to a Texas man with a similar telephone number receiving thousands of phone calls from ‘Beliebers’.

7. Kenneth Cole – ‘Cairo’ Tweet

In the world of social media, it’s always good to talk about something relevant, right? Maybe not when the events you are referring to are clashes in Cairo that ultimately led to the death of at least 24 people. Kenneth Cole did later apologise for the tweet on his Facebook page, stating,

I apologize to everyone who was offended by my insensitive tweet about the situation in Egypt. I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.”

6. The case of the ‘Vodafone beaver’

Whilst this might have looked like a compromised twitter account by an immature hacker, it later emerged that the tweet had come from someone within the company. The tweet was quickly deleted and Vodafone issued a frank apology: “We weren’t hacked. A severe breach of rules by staff in our building, dealing with that internally. We’re very sorry”. No other details were included, but it’s likely that the employee was fired.

5. Terrorism Tweets

In one of the most significant tweets of recent times, disgruntled traveller Paul Chambers complained of cancelled flights at Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster. Though many might have seen this as an ill-advised joke, an off-duty manager found the tweet a week later and contacted the police. Later, anti-terrorist police showed up at Chamber’s door charging him with “sending a public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character contrary to the Communications Act 2003“.

He was ordered to pay £1,000 in legal costs and fines and whilst many fellow tweeters saw the decision as a miscarriage of justice, it was a clear lesson to those that tweet without fully thinking through the consequences.

4. Duke Nukem PR Agency Lashes Out

Gamers had waited 14 years for the next Duke Nukem game after Duke Nukem 3D and in June 2011, Duke Nukem Forever was finally released – to scathing reviews. Most game companies would bow their head and accept that their game was a critical failure that could never live up to expectations, but not Jim Redner, president of The Redner Group, the PR agency working for the client. The game’s publisher, Take-Two, quickly terminated their working contract.

3. Habitat Hashtags

Similar to Kenneth Cole, the social media department for Habitat was clearly trying to ride off popularity generated by trending hashtags, but apparently misunderstood the actual idea. After a barrage of tweeters expressed their complaints at the company’s spamming, HabitatUK removed the tweets and issued a public apology stating,

“We have been reading everyone’s comments carefully and would like to make a very sincere apology to any Twitter users who were offended. The top ten trending topics were pasted into hashtags without checking with us and apparently without verifying what all of the tags referred to. This was absolutely not authorised by Habitat.”

2. Connor Riley Loses Job Before Starting It

For many, being offered a job can be a fantastic opportunity to move forward in life and whilst it might not be exactly what you’ve dreamt of, it’s certainly not a good idea to express your unhappiness on a public forum. Riley received a reply from Cisco channel partner advocate Tim Levad, stating Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.

Levad surmised the situation with a simple tweet – “Lots of new followers today. I wonder why. Be careful what you say, and have a great day.”

1. Twitter User Jailed

[Tweet not pictured due to insensitivity – Seriously NSFW!]

One of the most high-profile cases of Twitter appearing in the public eye, student Liam Stacey tweeted insensitive and racist tweets about footballer Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed on the football field after suffering a cardiac arrest. Stacey landed a 56-day prison sentence, was excluded from his university campus and will likely suffer from a tarnished public profile.

Stacey, commenting on the consequences of his actions, said “it was a “stupid, massive, massive mistake and I’ve paid a big price for it. What I struggle to get my head around was the week or two before I was just a normal kid getting on with my work in university, getting on with life, playing rugby with all my mates, then a week or two later I was just going to prison, everything had been turned upside down.”


Whilst Twitter is an invaluable social media tool, users need to remember to not treat it as a stream of consciousness or gossip forum – think before you tweet.