Celebrities have found innumerable ways to communicate with their adoring fans. And these days, they spend a lot of time shooting the breeze on social media platforms like Twitter. From retweeting lucky followers and interacting one-on-one with other famous people to spreading the word about their latest project, it’s an ideal way to maintain their fame and their celebrity brand.
But the popular social media platform has also negatively impacted more than one celebrity’s public image. From Anthony Weiner’s infamous NSFW pictures to Kanye West’s erratic and seemingly endless rants, countless men and women in the spotlight have proven that social media messages have the power to completely blow up in our faces.
Some celebs simply end up putting their digital foot in their mouth by tweeting something in poor taste. Others reveal sides of their personality that turn fans and onlookers off. And others just prove that they probably should have paid a little bit more attention in English class. Regardless, the internet has a long memory — and once a tweet is out there, it’s out there for good. Here are five that these actors and actresses that prove you can ruin a career — or at least tarnish your image — in 140 characters or less.
1. Zac Efron
Zac Efron has long served as a poster child for 21st century heartthrobs. So it’s not like we all look to him for wisdom or moral guidance. Still, his tweet this past Martin Luther King Jr. Day was, to put it bluntly, incredibly stupid. It’s so stupid that it’s difficult to know where to begin to critique it. Is it that he hashtagged #MLKDay while sharing a picture of himself enjoying a California sunset? Or is it that he likened his gratitude for the beloved Civil Rights leader with his recent successes on Instagram? Either way, the tweet didn’t go over well — he was swiftly taken to task for his lack of self awareness or actual respect for the holiday he proclaimed to be celebrating. Efron removed the controversial post and apologized for its insensitivity. And it’s likely he won’t be tweeting about any other holidays in the near future.
2. Jason Biggs
Jason Biggs shot to fame by embracing the art of inappropriate comedy in American Pie. And he’s no stranger to pushing the envelope when it comes to his vulgar comedy stylings on Twitter. But Biggs has also learned the hard way that sometimes, it is too soon to crack wise about a serious disaster. In 2014, Malaysia Airline Flight 17 went missing and the subsequent search for its wreckage became an international sensation. Biggs, unfortunately, chose to capitalize on the trending topic on Twitter with an ill-conceived — and poorly timed — joke. While he likely meant no harm, his followers took him to task for making light of the deadly situation. Biggs was initially defensive in responsive to the backlash, but later deleted the tweet and issued an apology.
3. Amanda Bynes
It’s difficult to choose just one tweet from Amanda Bynes’s notoriously troubled social media history. In the span of a few years, the former child star’s mental health issues became a hot topic, due to her run-ins with the law and her frequent nonsensical posts on Twitter. She talked explicitly about her dating preferences and insulted other celebrities like Rihanna — much to the amusement of the Twittersphere.
But when Bynes tweeted that her father had sexually abused her as a child, her social media exploits stopped being a laughing matter. Recanting her claim with this bizarre message about being controlled by a microchip only furthered speculation that the actress was in need of some serious help. Just a few days later, she began psychiatric treatment. And we all learned that there’s a thin line between being entertained by a celebrity’s erratic behavior and bearing witness to a serious mental health event.
4. Bill Cosby
A note to all future celebrities that may find themselves in the midst of a career-ending legal battle: Don’t invite the Internet to meme you. Just don’t. Bill Cosby learned this lesson the hard way when he did just that in late 2014. The actor-comedian was largely silent for months while allegations from countless women that he had sexually assaulted them. So when he tweeted out a request that his followers “Meme him,” he ignited a social media firestorm that had been brewing for quite some time. With one simple message, he proved he was tone deaf to the swirling drama surrounding him. And he gave free reign to anyone with a Twitter account and some free time on their hands. Predictably, the meme-request backfired, and transformed into viral social media commentary on his status as a lovable comedian-turned-predator.
5. Ashton Kutcher
Part of the fun of participating in social media is getting caught up in the frenzy over a trending topic. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop to research what everyone is talking about before you throw in your two cents. Just ask Ashton Kutcher. The That ’70s Show star was inundated with backlash after he posted this tweet about former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Kutcher wasn’t aware of the unfolding scandal within the school’s athletics department — or the role that the coach played in covering it up. As a result, his passionate defense of the once-beloved Jo Pa came across as extremely insensitive to his millions of followers. Kutcher quickly apologized when he learned the whole story — and temporarily quit the social media platform altogether soon thereafter.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @katiedoubleyew.
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