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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Top 10 Twitter Controversies

Top 10 Twitter Controversies


10. ABC News Tweets Obama's 'Jackass' Comment

Kanye West takes the microphone from Taylor Swift as she accepts the

Kanye West takes the microphone from Taylor Swift as she accepts the "Best Female Video" award during the MTV Video Music Awards in New York in September 2009.

Perhaps President Obama needs to make sure he says, "This is off the record" before he tells it like it is. After CNBC's John Harwood taped an interview with Obama in September 2009, three ABC News employees tweeted a comment that Obama had made about rapper Kanye West. The remark had nothing to do with politics or the state of the country. But rather, Harwood had asked the President what he thought about rapper Kanye West interrupting singer Taylor Swift as she accepted an award onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards the day before. The question came before the start of the interview as makeup was being applied and Obama seemed comfortable enough to say what he really thought: that Kanye was a "jackass" for pulling the stunt. In a video that was later leaked, Obama says, "I'm assuming all this stuff ..." his voice trailing off as he makes a signal with his hand across his neck to imply that what he was saying was off the record. He must have thought he didn't need to finish the sentence, as it's an understood broadcast tradition that such pre-interview chatter is in fact considered off the record.

The bigger question is, Why would ABC News even have had access to the interview? Turns out that ABC and CNBC share a fiber optic line to save money, so ABC News employees were able to listen in on the interview. ABC News apologized for the breach.

9. Palin Refudiates. #Shakespalin Is Born

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin signs copies of her book,
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin signs copies of her book, "Going Rogue" for soldiers at the PX Exchange at Fort Hood, Texas in December 2009.

Last summer, after Sarah Palin mistakenly used refudiate in a tweet about the controversial Ground Zero mosque, she tweeted, '"Refudiate," "misunderestimate," "wee-wee'd up." English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!'Palin reads Shakespeare?! Seriously, though, there may be times when you don't want to just refute or repudiate, and only refudiate will do. Of course, in all likelihood The Bard intended to coin his new words;

Palin, on the other hand did not. She deleted the original tweet. And, as TIME noted, "Word nerds and literary buffs didn't take kindly to Palin comparing herself to Shakespeare, and turned her quip into comedic gold." Hence, the #shakespalin hashtag, where Twitter users wrote Shakespearean quotes, Palin-style. In the end though, the New Oxford American Dictionary could hardly argue with the reach of the word, and — while noting that Palin wasn't really the first to have used it — declared it the 2010 Word of the Year.

8. Twitter Hack

A screen grab taken when the Iranian Cyber Army apparently hacked
A screen grab taken when the Iranian Cyber Army apparently hacked

On December 17, 2009, Twitter was attacked. Users attempting to post their pearls of wisdom and obligatory breakfast food observations met an ominous greeting instead. A group calling itself the Iranian Cyber Army took credit for the hack, which was later discovered to be a DNS exploit designed to redirect users from to a page with this message: "This site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army. U.S.A. think they controlling and managing Internet by their access, but they don't, we control and manage Internet by our power, so do not try to stimulation Iranian peoples to... Now which country in embargo list? Iran? USA? We push them in embargo list. Take care." The hijack, a careful sabotage of the server that links the Twitter domain name to an IP address, changed Twitter's DNS records to an IP address that lead to the Iranian Cyber Army message page. Digitally, relations between the U.S. and the Iranian government had been tense since the country's last election six months prior — in which Twitter played an integral role — which led which led the media to believe the group was actually affiliated with the Iranian protesters. In an effort to aid the uprising, the Obama Administration convinced Twitter to delay censoring the message, before it was eventually found to be a fake.

7. Courtney Love's Lawsuits

Courtney Love in Cannes, France on May 20, 2011.
Courtney Love in Cannes, France on May 20, 2011.

Courtney Love is nothing if not scandalous. Just a few months after Love paid an undisclosed amount to settle a lawsuit that claimed she defamed a fashion designer on Twitter, the rocker has once again been served with court papers for her actions on the social networking site. The San Diego law firm, Gordon & Holmes, filed a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court saying Love made libelous statements about them on Twitter. Apparently mad when the law firm refused to take her as a client — they had worked with her before, but Love fired the firm after they requested she refrain from substance abuse during their working relationship — Love tweeted to her followers, "I was f___ing devastated when Rhonda J Holmes Esq was bought off." While there's no telling what will happen with this Twitter-charged law suit, it seems the rocker has already signed off the site. Let's hope this time it is for good.

6. Perez Hilton and Miley Cyrus's "Invisible" Underwear

Perez Hilton, left and Miley Cyrus, right.
Perez Hilton, left and Miley Cyrus, right.

The celebrity blogger with the hot pink website who always seems to get a hold of embarrassing star pics, may have bit off more than he intended when he took on Miley Cyrus. Last summer, Perez Hilton tweeted, "If you are easily offended, do NOT click here. Oh, Miley! Warning: truly not for the easily offended!" Accompanying the tweet was a picture of the teenage pop star climbing out of a convertible, supposedly Britney Spears style — all skirt and no underwear. When some on the interwebs suggested Perez had posted a potentially illegal pic (Cyrus was 17 at the time), he took it down. The New York Daily News reported that Cyrus was wearing underwear, but Hilton later told Joy Behar, "I didn't pick [the photo] for her to look like she wasn't wearing underwear ... it was showing Miley getting out of the car in an unladylike fashion."

5. The Hitler Tweet

Wisconsin State Senate candidate Dane Deutsch and Adolf Hitler.
Wisconsin State Senate candidate Dane Deutsch and Adolf Hitler.

Twitter may be many things, but a venue for nuance it is not. If you're going to call Adolf Hitler a "strong leader," then you better do so with more caveats than can be expressed in 140 characters. And yet, in 2010, Wisconsin Republican state Senate candidate Dane Deutsch tweeted, "Hitler and Lincoln were both strong leaders. Lincoln's character made him the greater leader whose legacy and leadership still lives on!"
When TIME named Hitler 1938's Man of the Year, it was an acknowledgment of his malevolent power; he was a strong leader, yes, but a leader of a "demagogic, ignorant, desperate movement." Deutsch apparently meant as much, but Wisconsin's Senate Democratic Committee pounced on the words months after they were posted and the ill-advised tweeter lost the election to the Democratic incumbent.

4. Twitter vs. the U.K. Superinjunction

Ryan Giggs of Manchester United looks dejected after defeat in the UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England.
Ryan Giggs of Manchester United looks dejected after defeat in the UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England.

A series of tweets had the British legal system in a frenzy in May 2011 as anonymous accounts began tweeting reports of an affair between between footballer Ryan Giggs and reality TV star Imogen Thomas. The problem? Giggs had a super-injunction in place that forbid anyone from reporting on his personal life. So as traditional media outlets could do nothing, Twitter was burning with gossip. (The site even broke a traffic record in the U.K., when one in every 200 Brits online logged onto Courts demanded account information from Twitter and the company was sued, in addition to the list of specific Twitter users listed in confidential court documents. At the time, Giggs' identity was referred to as "a VIP" by the media until MP John Hemming pointed a finger at Giggs during a press conference. "As things stand, Britain's twisted privacy law is archaic," wrote the London Times in an editorial. "In the past, this was merely wrong. Today, it is idiotic." But it's still the law.

3. Nir Rosen and Lara Logan

Lara Logan, left and Nir Rosen, right.
Lara Logan, left and Nir Rosen, right.

People around the world watched the Egyptian uprising with rapt attention as pro- and anti-government sides battled in Tahrir Square. Journalists, too, were in the thick of the fighting—Anderson Cooper took some much-seen punches to the face and TIME's own Abigail Hauslohner had to flee from government troops blasting tear gas. Then CBS reported that their foreign affairs correspondent and veteran war reporter Lara Logan had been beaten and sexually assaulted. The story blazed around the internet, fanned by tweets from Nir Rosen, an independent journalist (and former TIME contributor) who has reported from Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade. Rosen tweeted that she was a "warmonger" and that she was trying to outdo Anderson Cooper. When he apologized, Rosen claimed that he hadn't realized the seriousness of Logan's assault. Rosen, who resigned from his fellowship from New York University's Center on Law and Security, appeared on Cooper's show via satellite from the Middle East and admitted, "I was a jerk and I was being thoughtless." While Cooper didn't buy other parts of Rosen's explanation, on that part, he agreed.

2. Kenneth Cole and the Arab Spring

Designer Kenneth Cole attends
Designer Kenneth Cole attends "The Normal Heart" on Broadway's Tuesday TalkOut series at the Golden 

When the Arab Spring took hold in Egypt earlier this year, the uprisings made headlines around the world. And while many people got on the revolution bandwagon, fashion designer Kenneth Cole decided to capitalize on the resulting press momentum to promote his clothing collection. On Feb. 3, Cole tweeted "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at -KC" The missive was widely mocked for being insensitive (at best) and downright offensive (at worst), and even spawned a satirical KennethColePR twitter account. "South Africans won't be able to tear APARTheid my new knits — they're just that strong! #KennethColeTweets," one (spoof) message read. Cole offered a clarification: "We weren't intending to make light of a serious situation," before finally apologizing in a Facebook post later the same day. But by then, Cole's flub had long gone viral, and his written regrets did little to calm the ensuing controversy.

1. Representative Weiner's Weinergate

Anthony Weiner
Representative Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York, speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 31, 2011, regarding a lewd photo tweet

Representative Anthony Weiner created a Twitter scandal for himself when he not only tweeted lewd photos of himself to a 21-year-old college student but also lied about it. "I lied because I was embarrassed," the seven-term Representative admitted at a June 6 press conference. "I have made terrible mistakes." The New York Democrat, who said he would not resign, is considered a potential successor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but the tweet and subsequent media response will almost assuredly threaten his chances. Dubbed "Weinergate," the incident led to obvious puns and mounting affair allegations from the Congressman's critics. Weiner, who is married to one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's aides, fueled the fire himself, at first describing the tweet as a hack and a prank, before he eventually came clean and apologized to both his wife and the public.

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