Twitter has proved itself to be a powerful social media tool for celebrities, allowing them to promote their newest projects and connect with fans much more intimately than ever before. Some, like Kim Kardashian, even get paid to promote products to their huge followings. But what Twitter can giveth, Twitter can taketh away, and many celebrities this year experienced the ugly side of Twitter when they posted insensitive, offensive and just plain dumb tweets. Here is a breakdown of the top 11 cringe-worthy, career-destroying and scandal-making tweets from 2011.
|Anthony Weiner @RepWeiner|
By far the most alarming and destructive tweet sent in 2011 was by former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. The tweet was a mere 24 characters -- a link to an illicit picture -- but it was enough to bring down the congressman and destroy the political career of a man who once hoped to be mayor of New York City.
After the link -- which was to a picture of a photo of a bulge in men's underwear -- appeared on the Weiner's Twitter feed, the congressman initially claimed the prank was the work of a hacker, and said so in a round of contentious and awkward interviews in the week following the incident. But after more incriminating photos of the congressman surfaced, Weiner announced his resignation, saying, "I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do [but] the distraction that I have created has made that impossible."
|Ashton Kutcher @aplusk|
"How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste,"
Ashton Kutcher reacted in disgust after Penn State fired long-time football coach Joe Paterno in November. But Kutcher, who has one of the most-followed Twitter accounts in the country, seemed to be the only American who didn't know that Paterno was fired following a massive sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Kutcher apologized for the uninformed tweet, claiming he read a headline and didn't know the context of Paterno's termination. "I quickly retracted and deleted my previous post, however that didn't seem enough to satisfy people's outrage at my misinformed post. I truly am sorry if I offended anyone and moreover am going to take action to ensure that it doesn't happen again," he wrote on his blog. Kutcher has also handed off his Twitter account to a management company to make sure he doesn't make any more damaging gaffes.
|Gilbert Gottfried @RealGilbert|
"Japan is really advanced. They don't go to the beach. The beach comes to them."
Gilbert Gottfried, the duck-voiced spokesman for Aflac insurance, was sacked after he tweeted several insensitive jokes in response to the Japanese tsunami, including "What does every Japanese person have in their apartment? Flood lights."
The comedian received negative feedback throughout the weekend, but he just kept on going. "Japan called me," he tweeted. "They said 'maybe those jokes are a hit in the U.S., but over here, they're all sinking." Aflac, which calls itself the No. 1 insurance company in Japan, was not amused. Gottfried deleted the jokes but not before Aflac had fired him.
"I was born without a censor button," he later said in a statement. "My mouth and now email will continue to get me into trouble."
|Blake Shelton @blakeshelton|
"Rewriting my fav Shania Twain song.. Any man that tries Touching my behind He's gonna be a beaten, bleedin', heaving kind of guy ..."
Country music star Blake Shelton caused a stir earlier this year when he tweeted the above lyric, suggesting he would leave any guy that touched his butt "beaten" and "bleedin'." Gay rights advocates such as Glaad were outraged. Glaad asked producers of "The Voice" to demand that he apologize, adding that "one has to wonder how Shania feels about seeing her anthem about strong women and female empowerment turned into a violent threat."
Shelton quickly explained that it was all a big misunderstanding, and that the lyrics were meant to be from a female's perspective."Hey y'all allow me to seriously apologize for the misunderstanding with the whole rewrite on the Shania song last night," he tweeted. "It honestly wasn't even meant that way. … I now know that their are people out there waiting to jump at everything I say on here or anywhere. But when it comes to gay/lesbian rights or just feelings. … I love everybody."
|Kenneth Cole @KennethCole|
"Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online."
As the world watched the revolutions of the Arab Spring unfold in the Middle East this year, someone at Kenneth Cole thought they saw a marketing opportunity. They were wrong.
After a tweet went out joking that the protests in Cairo were linked to Kenneth Cole's new spring collection, the company quickly issued an apology, tweeting "We weren't intending to make light of a serious situation. We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment." But the damage was done, and the backlash from the Internet was swift and biting. Fake Kenneth Cole Twitter accounts sprung up spouting parody tweets such as "Wardrobe got you water-BORED? GITMO of our new spring collection," and "locked in Charlie Sheen's closet? Tweet how many pairs of Coles he has!"
|Roger Ebert @ebertchicago|
"Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive."
On the night Jackass actor Ryan Dunn died in a horrible car accident, the MTV star posted a picture of himself drinking with friends on his Tumblr page, leading some to believe that alcohol was involved in the crash. Roger Ebert jumped the gun though, tweeting an insensitive message on the morning many were finding out about Dunn's death, and before anyone knew the specifics of the car accident. (Police later confirmed that Dunn's blood alcohol concentration far exceeded the legal limit.)
After people criticized his tweet, Ebert offered an apology on his website. "To begin with, I offer my sympathy to Ryan Dunn's family and friends," Ebert wrote. "I mean that sincerely. It is tragic to lose a loved one. I also regret that my tweet about the event was considered cruel. It was not intended as cruel. It was intended as true."
|Chris Brown @chrisbrown|
"Don't say sh-- to anybody and everyone feels its cool to attack me. GROWN ADULTS!!!! That sh-- happened three years ago. TWITTER GETS WACK REAL FAST! I LOVE ALL THE POEPLE WHO SUPPORT MY MUSIC! i never said i was a LEGEND. people please grow up. Ive never dealt with so much negativity in my life! its to the point now that its just ridiculous! IM NOT A POLITICIAN! MY MUSIC DOESNT PROMOTE VIOLENCE nor will it ever! only thing it will increase is the pregnacy rate! I wake up thinking of living my life..... YOU wake up thinking of me! NOW I REALLY CANT WAIT FOR THE AMA's! u dont have to respect me now... but u will."
"I know a lot of you wack ass (OLD) celebrities probably wanna f--- my ex, but talking sh-t on me wont get you far! and to be REALLY HONEST, ya'll wonder why ni--- spazzes all the time?"
Chris Brown isn't exactly known for keeping his composure, but his recent Twitter meltdown raised the bar for out-of-control celebrity online rants. Negative comments about the domestic violence incident between Brown and his ex-girlfriend Rihanna prompted the profanity-laden tirade, where he lashed out at "wack ass (OLD) celebrities," and is guilty of assaulting his caps lock key. After Brown got all his anger off his chest, he promptly deleted almost every tweet, and has since only posted to his Twitter account sporadically.
"Bad Joke. . .But alotta those wives would make me consider it."
Russell Armstrong was tackling personal demons when he committed suicide—his wife, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Taylor Armstrong, had just filed for divorce and there were accusations that he was physically abusing her. Many reality television show celebrities were tweeting out condolences to Taylor and her family but upon hearing about Armstrong's death, Ice-T distastefully tweeted out "Bad Joke…But alotta those wives would make me consider it."
|Kerri Hilson @MissKeriBaby|
"*gasp* Amy Winehouse resurrected to party w/ me!!! (seriously, uncanny resemblance)."
Keri Hilson enraged Amy Winehouse fans shortly after Winehouse's untimely death by tweeting out a picture of herself and an inebriated Amy Winehouse lookalike alike with the message above. Winehouse fans took to Twitter to attack Hilson for her insensitive comments, with one commenting that "maybe she can resurrect your career too. Hilson quickly apologized, saying that "Come on, I mean no harm. All due respect. But really the resemblance freaked me out. This was simply the best tribute ever. #RIPAMYWINEHOUSE….Bedtime. I apologize 2 anyone who might've taken it the wrong way. As a fan, I thought it was cool that she dressed up to honor Amy. I had no ill intent, but I understand how it appears insensitive…my bad twitterville."
|Orlando Jones @TheOrlandoJones|
"Libyan Rebels kill Gaddafi, if American liberals want respect they better stop listening to Aretha & kill Sarah Palin(:"
Orlando Jones took to his Twitter account to express his controversial opinions after the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi. Jones later categorized the tweet above as inane but was adamant that it was only a joke. The former "MADtv" cast member refused to apologize for the tweet, and recommended to an upset Twitter user "if my tweets are so upsetting to you please do not read them(:"
|Alec Baldwin @AlecBaldwin|
"Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving, #nowonder-americaairisbankrupt"
Alec Baldwin was removed from an American Airlines flight when he refused to stop playing Words With Friends on his iPad. He tweeted his annoyance, making light of American Airlines' recent bankruptcy filing in his message. Baldwin issued a pseudo-apology about the incident -- albeit not about the subsequent tweet -- on the Huffington Post, stating "I would like to apologize to the other passengers onboard the American Airlines flight that I was thrown off of yesterday. It was never my intention to inconvenience anyone with my 'issue; with a certain flight attendant." The "30 Rock" actor then appeared on "Saturday Night Live," playing the role of an American Airlines pilot who apologized himself. Baldwin recently deleted all of his old tweets from his Twitter account and filled in the word "Deactivated" in the name field. The actor reportedly had gotten tired of Twitter.
Watch "The Year With Katie Couric" Thursday, Dec. 15 at 9 p.m. ET.