A hundred and forty characters doesn't seem like a lot. But we've proven that Twitter's character limit is more than enough. We use it to break news, to provide updates, and to live-blog an entire event. And, we've seen that it's definitely more than enough to produce a cringe-worthy moment that will be remembered forever. Here's the top five Tweets of 2011 that shouldn't have been sent.
5. @Reuters: FLASH: Congresswoman Gifford dies after being shot in the head at public appearance in Tucson
@NPRNews: BREAKING Rep. Giffords (D-AZ), 6 others killed by gunman in Tucson
News spreads on Twitter like wildfire. On Jan. 8, when Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head while speaking outside a Safeway, the Twitterverse picked up the news quickly, and incorrect reports that Giffords had died from a gunshot wound to the head circulated quickly.
Reuters and NPR both tweeted that she was dead.
As soon as Reuters realized that Giffords was not dead, they deleted the original tweet. NPR News, on the other hand, took a different approach.
Andy Carvin, NPR's senior strategist, explained: “I posted that she had been killed because that is what we were reporting, and as soon as I saw we were backing off from that assertion, I posted the follow-up noting that as well. I very briefly considered deleting the incorrect tweet, but concluded it was both pointless and inappropriate.”
Read more: World reacts to Gabrielle Giffords' shooting
4. Roger Ebert @EbertChicago: "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive."
The night before he died in a horrible car accident, Jackass actor Ryan Dunn posted a picture of himself drinking on his Tumblr page. Before anyone knew the specifics of what had happened, Roget Ebert tweeted what many thought was a particularly insensitive tweet, right as the world woke up to news of Dunn's death. (It was later revealed that Dunn's blood alcohol level was way over the legal limit).
Well, Bam Margera, Dunn's cohost and fellow MTV star didn't take the news well: "I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterical for a full day and piece of sh** roger ebert has the gall to put in his 2 cents."
Ebert offered an "apology" on his website: "To begin with, I offer my sympathy to Ryan Dunn's family and friends. 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."
3. Esquire Magazine @EsquireMag: "How to get a better blowjob than #DSK — We think."
Esquire Magazine learned the hard way that making fun of someone who's been sexually harassed is never a good thing. Especially not on Twitter.
On the same day that Domique Strauss-Kahn's accuser spoke publicly for the first time about the allegations she made against the former IMF chief, Esquire tweeted some instruction on how to give better oral sex.
That didn't go over very well. As if the Tweet wasn't bad enough, the original story had a paragraph pegging the column (on how to give oral sex) to the DSK rape case.
In the latest Newsweek, the maid who was allegedly raped by former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn gives a very graphic account of their time together, including some very indecent oral sex. And whomever you believe, that's a tragedy.
While they deleted the offending paragraph, and the tweet, the only mention they made of it was an apology tweet. "Sometimes our sense of humor doesn't come out the way we intend. Sorry if an earlier tweet offended anyone."
2. Ashton Kutcher @Aplusk: "How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste"
Ashton Kutcher was probably the only person in the United States who didn't know that Joe Paterno, Penn State's long-time football coach, had been fired following a massive sex abuse scandal that involved his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Kutcher has one of the most followed Twitter accounts in the country, and though he apologized for the tweet (claiming that he didn't know the context of Paterno's termination), the outrage didn't end.
"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," Kutcher wrote on his blog.
He has since handed off his account to a management company.
1. Anthony Weiner @RepWeiner:
It wasn't so much what Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) wrote on Twitter, as much as what he posted that ended up being a huge deal. In a misstep many have made (Charlie Sheen sent his digits to Justin Bieber), Weiner accidentally posted a lewd tweet that had been intended as a direct message. Though at first he claimed that his Twitter account had been hacked— after deleting the lewd tweet, he tweeted: Tivo shot. FB hacked. Is my blender gonna attack me next? #TheToasterIsVeryLoyal)— Weiner finally admitted that he had sent the tweet. The scandal spiralled out of his control, and after two weeks of constant media coverage, Weiner resigned.
Read more: Weinergate: The business opportunity