Twitter is a dangerous place for movie stars, famous athletes and other public people. The average person might feel shame after impulsively tweeting a borderline insane rant against an airline after being asked to stop playing Words With Friends during takeoff — but when a celebrity does it, (Alec Baldwin), it becomes a national news story, and an official, publicist-approved apology must be issued.
We've been seeing a lot of those official apologies over the last few months as public people from across the entertainment spectrum have found that despite the 140-character limit, the tweeting of a dumb joke, a thoughtless observation or an impulsive rant can have a big effect.
Want examples? We've got seven.
1. Oprah Winfrey: At 9 on the Sunday night of the Grammys, the first lady of talk show television tried to drum up some views for her show "Oprah's Next Chapter" by tweeting "Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Neilsen box." Her fans didn't seem to mind, but Nielsen did — and not just because she spelled the company's name wrong. The next day Winfrey deleted the tweet and sent this statement to the New York Times: "I removed the tweet at the request of Nielsen. I intended no harm and apologize for the reference."
2. Roland Martin: The CNN commentator made the wrong kind of headlines after tweeting what was construed as a homophobic response to an H&M commercial featuring David Beckham that aired during the Super Bowl. Martin wrote, "If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!" In a lengthy apology posted on his blog, Martin insists the remark was meant to be anti-soccer, not anti-gay, but GLAAD disagreed, and now Martin is suspended from CNN.
3. Kasey Kahne: The NASCAR driver drew the ire of the pro-nursing-your-baby-in-public community when he tweeted his disgust at seeing a woman nursing in a grocery store in late December. "Just walking though supermarket. See a mom breast feeding little kid. Took second look because obviously I was seeing things. I wasn't!" he wrote. A subsequent tweet describing the scene in more detail ended with "#nasty." Big mistake. "I understand that my comments regarding breast-feeding posted on Twitter were offensive to some people," Kahne wrote later on his Facebook page. "For that, I apologize."
4. Ashton Kutcher: The tweet @aplusk wishes he never wrote? "How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste," dashed off Nov. 10 after Kutcher heard that Paterno had been fired, but hadn't heard why he had been fired. The worst kind of "oops." Kutcher apologized profusely to his 8 million followers, tweeted a picture of himself next to a sign saying "I'm with stupid," and then announced he would be turning over the management of his feed to his publicists.
5. Alec Baldwin: The actor was so incensed he was asked to stop playing Words with Friends on a flight between L.A. and New York in early December that he couldn't resist tweeting it. "Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving. #nowonderamericaairisbankrupt." The anger expressed in that tweet and a subsequent one that ended "#realwayisunited" gave the press something to pounce on, and by the end of the day the story was everywhere. Baldwin later apologized for his behavior on Huffington Post and deactivated his Twitter account.
6. Jason Whitlock: The Fox Sports commentator made a crass joke about Jeremy Lin shortly after Lin's 38-point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers this month. The Asian American Journalists Assn. quickly demanded an apology for the joke, which referenced an unflattering stereotype about Asian men. Whitlock's sorry was swift. After admitting that he can be "immature and sophomoric," he wrote, "As the Asian American Journalist Association pointed out, I debased a feel-good sports moment. For that, I'm truly sorry."
7. Anthony Weiner: It wasn't the words the New York congressman typed into Twitter that got him in trouble in June, it was the lewd pictures he sent. After first denying he was responsible for the pictures, he was eventually forced to admit — in a tearful news conference — that, in fact, he was. The result? He resigned from Congress.