Top 10 Twitter gaffes
Comedian John Cleese appears to have blamed a member of his staff for a joke about murder-accused Oscar Pistorius which appeared on his Twitter feed.
Last week the Fawlty Towers star appeared to make light of the South African case in which the Olympic athlete has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp.
A tweet appeared on his profile page which said the defence of the athlete, who wears prosthetic legs, would be “that he was absolutely legless at the time”.
The actor apologised to his Twitter followers after receiving a torrent of criticism, but over the weekend tweeted again about the incident: “Explanation required: Someone made the comment. I said yeah we should tweet that – sarcastically. Misunderstood.”
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Cleese is the latest public figure to find themselves at the centre of a Twitter storm. Here, we round-up the top 10 Twitter gaffes:
Susan Boyle’s PR team came under fire last year when, in a bid to promote the singer’s album party, they accidentally invited her Twitter followers to a very different kind of event.
The team created the hashtag #susanalbumparty – read that again if you didn’t catch it the first time – and received a string of hilarious responses.
One man wrote: “Just been invited to #susanalbumparty. Do you bring your own lube or is it provided?”
Meanwhile Lisa Snowdon wrote: “I don’t think Susan Boyle’s record company thought this hash tag thru properly...”
Perhaps the best-know Twitter gaffe of all time, in 2011 the New York Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner posted lewd photos of himself on the social networking site, seemingly intended for the eyes of a college student.
A run of cringe-worthy interviews and press conferences followed, in which he tried to claim his Twitter account had been hacked.
But he came clean a few days later, publicly admitting he exchanged graphic photos with six women over Twitter and Facebook. He later resigned.
“I shop at Waitrose because…”
Supermarket Waitrose was the butt of Twitter jokes last year when it invited users to complete the tweet: “I shop at Waitrose because…”.
While many genuinely responded, others replied with comments like “I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important, and I absolutely detest being surrounded by poor people.”
The retailer promptly handed the furore, tweeting it enjoyed reading a number of the responses.
Sally Bercow, the wife of Commons Speaker John Bercow, found herself in hot water last year when she breached a court order by naming a schoolgirl who allegedly ran away with her maths teacher.
She later told The Times she had suspended her Twitter account, saying: “Apparently, I shouldn’t have tweeted that. You need a law degree to be on Twitter nowadays. It’s ridiculous.”
Bercow was already on a list of those who wrongly named or linked former senior Tory Lord McAlpine with child abuse claims.
From hired to fired
A would-be Cisco employee was lulled into a false sense of online security when they shared with the world: "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.”
Shortly afterwards a channel partner advocate for Cisco Alert shared their open response: "Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web."
The twitter user was chastised online and the job offer was rescinded. Ouch.
Labour frontbencher Kerry McCarthy, installed as the party's ''Twitter Tsar'' by former leader Gordon Brown, was in 2010 given a police caution after illegally revealing election results online.
The Bristol East MP used the social networking site to give details of postal votes in April, boasting to thousands of followers an early batch showed Labour receiving far more support in her constituency than the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats. She even provided figures to support her claim.
Section 66 of the 1983 Representation of the People Act forbids ''any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election'' before polls close.
The maximum punishment for breaking the law is six months imprisonment or a fine of £5,000.
McCarthy removed the post, admitting she had been ''thoughtless'', and accepted a police caution.
'HMV X Factor firing'
It was a bad day for collapsed music retailer HMV when last month disgruntled staff hijacked the firm's Twitter account as they were being sacked.
The angry workers tweeted live the firing of 60 staff from the HR department in what they described as a "mass execution of loyal employees who love the brand".
They then tweeted: "There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand. #hmvXFactorFiring".
Minutes after the live commentary began, administrators Deloitte confirmed the loss of 190 jobs across the companies’ head office and distribution network.
Airport bomb joke
A tweet sent in a moment of frustration landed a user in hot water in 2010.
Responding to the news Robin Hood Airport, near Doncaster, was closed by snow in January, Paul Chambers wrote: "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"
He was later found guilty of sending a "menacing electronic communication", although in July last year he saw his conviction quashed.
Chambers, who won the support of comedians Stephen Fry and Al Murray, said he had never thought anyone would take his "silly joke" seriously.
Diane Abbott, Westminster's first black woman MP, was last year accused of making racist claims after tweeting ''White people love playing 'divide & rule'".
Her comment was a response to criticism of media use of the phrase "black community leaders" after the Stephen Lawrence murder trial.
She later apologised and said her remark had been "taken out of context".
Margaret Thatcher is dead?
French newswire Les News prompted confusion in May last year when they told their 118,000 Twitter followers former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had died.
The newswire, which made the erroneous tweet after ‘learning of the news’ on Twitter via a fake Carla Bruni Sarkozy Twitter account, later apologised.
But rumours of the Iron Lady’s death circulated again months later when a fake Twitter account @OfficialSkyNews tweeted 10 times Thatcher had passed away.
The account has no official tie to Sky News, however, and was quickly disabled.