Ann Coulter, conservative pundit
The professional firebrand made headlines after the final presidential debate in October when she tweeted this: “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.” President Obama didn’t seem to mind, but a Special Olympian with Down syndrome did. John Franklin Stephens, 30, asked for an apology to the special-needs community. “Come on Ms. Coulter,” he pleaded, “you aren’t shallow and you aren’t dumb.” She backtracked, saying it was just another word for “loser.”
Eat your words
Danielle Smith, Alberta Wildrose leader
The Wildrose Opposition leader was trying to do the right thing in October when she jumped on a Twitter follower’s suggestion that Alberta stop dumping tainted XL meat because the poor would appreciate truckloads of it. “I agree. We all know thorough cooking kills E. coli. What a waste. MT @lyechtel: Is there no way to cook it so it’s safe and feed the hungry?” The apology came shortly after. “I would have to say that if you can’t explain something in 140 characters, you shouldn’t try to talk about it on Twitter,” she told reporters.
Roland Martin, CNN anchor/pundit
Either Roland Martin doesn’t like David Beckham, or he’s a homophobe. CNN went with the latter when they suspended the sports anchor in February over this controversial tweet: “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl.” A gay rights group called for Martin’s head, citing other allegedly homophobic tweets and comments. Martin maintained his innocence in a lengthy blog apology; CNN reinstated him.
A tweet that bites
Voula Papachristou, Greek triple jumper
Would-be Olympian Voula Papachristou has a unique sense of humour, but it appears nobody else thinks she’s funny. The Greek triple jumper thought it would be hilarious to tweet this piquant observation prior to the London Games this summer: “With so many Africans in Greece . . . the West Nile mosquitoes will at least eat homemade food!” Authorities said the tweet violated Olympic values, and banned her from competition. She decided to leave the tweet up for a while, but eventually took it down and apologized.
Owning up to Nielsen
Oprah Winfrey, Media Magnate
Any publicity is not always good publicity. Just ask former talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey. When she tapped her nine million Twitter followers to prop up her struggling television network—“Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if you have a Nielsen box”—Nielsen wasn’t happy. Viewers can’t be pressured to choose programs, even if they could, say, motivate them to reconnect with their estranged relatives or lose 10 lb. Winfrey apologized and retracted the tweet.
Meltdown in 140
Donald Trump, irascible developer
Donald Trump went a little ballistic on Twitter when it became clear Barack Obama would win re-election on Nov. 6. His tweets included: “We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided! Let’s fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us!” (He also made time to disparage the subpar acting on Law & Order.) Trump told Businessweek he had no regrets. “The fact is,” he said, “there’s a large group of people who like Donald Trump and what Donald Trump says.” Some of the more spirited tweets were retracted.
Call me maybe
Justin Bieber, pop star
Canadian singer Justin Bieber is responsible for what was probably the biggest crank call in the history of telecommunications. In March, the Biebs tweeted a phone number to his nearly 19 million followers urging them to “call me right now.” It was missing one digit, so more than 1,000 fans ended up calling an unsuspecting Texan couple who weren’t entirely sure who Justin Bieber was.
Twitter isn’t immune to the occasional gaffe. The social networking site suspended the account of Guy Adams, an Independent reporter who criticized NBC for its shoddy Olympic coverage this summer and publicly tweeted executive Gary Zenkel’s email. It cited privacy regulations, but critics said the social network was biased because of its Olympic coverage partnership with NBC. Twitter apologized for “mishandling” the incident.