Twitter Hall of Shame: 8 blunders from years past

The social network turned five this week, and everyone is patting it on the back. Oh, how easily we forget all the headaches it has caused.

People far and wide are singing Twitter’s praises in the wake of the site’s fifth birthday. But just as social networking sites can give, so can they taketh away.

That’s why PR pros often cringe at the Twitter blunder.

With everyone spouting off in such a public forum, we’re all a bad idea and 140 characters (or fewer) away from becoming the object of public scorn.

Just ask these poor bastards:

1. James Andrews.
There’s insulting a person—and then there’s insulting the city he loves and the company that pays his mortgage. In January 2009, Ketchum VP James Andrews learned this the hard way. Shortly after arriving in Memphis, home of then-client FedEx, Andrews tweeted: “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say I would die if I had to live here!” Andrews apologized; Ketchum apologized. FedEx let it go, but luckily we haven’t. (Andrews left in Ketchum in June 2009 to join the startup world.)

2. Jeffrey Cox. The former Indiana deputy attorney general was fired for suggesting via Twitter that Wisconsin’s riot police should use live ammo to clear out protestors at the capitol. Yikes.

3. Octavia Nasr. There’s a reason her bio reads “Former senior editor of Middle East affairs for CNN.” The network fired Nasr after one of her tweets praised the Hezbollah’s late spiritual leader.

4. Kenneth Cole. The fashion designer put out one of the most tasteless tweets of the season during the uprising in Cairo, Egypt: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at -KC” Cole apologized the next day—via Facebook.

5. Ozzie Guillen. If you’re looking for a Twitter blunder from the World Series-winning manager of the Chicago White Sox, take your pick. Soon after the outspoken skipper launched the account, the organization expressed concern. For good reason. Here’s one example of his Twitter-born gaffes: Last August, Guillen slammed Major League Baseball for his perception that it had mistreated Latino baseball players. His team issued a statement denouncing the comments; Guillen claimed his comments were taken out of context. It seems to run in the family. His son, Oney, was forced by the organization to resign over some critical Tweets he posted. So numerous are his blunders that they’ve been chalked up to Ozzie being Ozzie.

6. Chrysler. Scott Bartosiewicz was stuck in traffic in the Motor City when he tweeted: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive.” He thought he tweeted that on his personal account. He didn’t. The former employee of New Media Strategies, the former social media agency for Chrysler, had posted it to his client’s account. It cost him a job and his firm the account.

7. Cisco Fatty, a.k.a., Connor Riley. After Cisco offered this genius a job, she took to Twitter with this gem: “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.” It wasn’t long before someone from Cisco found the post and passed it along to Riley’s hiring manager. In the aftermath, an Internet star was born: Cisco Fatty. (Riley has claimed she turned down the job offer before sending the tweet.)

8. Gilbert Gottfried. A gaggle of off-color Tweets soon after the recent Japan earthquake/tsunami led to the comedian getting fired as the voice of the Aflac duck. A search is on to find his replacement.

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