October 9, 2012
With over 500 million active users, Twitter is one of the most popular sites on the Internet. The micro-blogging site allows any member to send a message that anyone can read within a limit of 140 characters. In only six years it has grown from a start-up to be one of the top ten Internet sites.
People like Twitter because it offers instant access to the thoughts of anyone who holds an account. It is popular with sports stars and fans who are able to pass comment on the latest sporting action and news just as it happens. This can be a great way to learn more about the life of an icon, but the quick-fire nature of the site allows people to post things that they later regret.
Sometimes this can be quick comments that cause offence and in other cases it can descend into a Twitter flame-war where two (or more) people who should know better spend time sending insults to each other. In other cases, people have accidentally posted embarrassing details or photos on the site. Anyone that users Twitter should be aware of the risk that comes from the site and take care not to follow the example of these sports stars.
The English FA charged the England and Chelsea defender with misconduct after posting a Twitter comment about them. This all started with the racism case of his team-mate, John Terry in September 2012. After the FA released details of the racism trial to the media in early October, Ashley Cole took offence to suggestions that his evidence was not entirely truthful.
Almost immediately Cole posted the following Tweet – “Hahahahaa, well done #fa I lied did I, #BUNCHOFT***S”. Shortly afterwards the offending Tweet was removed, but not before it had been reposted by thousands of followers.
It is obvious that the Tweet was a hasty statement of his anger that he had to remove as soon as his advisors found out about it, but this is no excuse. Cole is still waiting to hear his punishment for this outburst, but someone in his position should know better. – particularly just before he celebrates his 100th appearance for England this week.
The Greek triple jumper made a mistake in July when she posted racist comments about African migrants and support for a far-right political party. Instead of completing her preparation for the London Olympics before flying out of Greece, Papchristou instead found herself kicked off the team and watching the games on TV instead of competing. Many of the offending Tweets were later removed, but not before they were seen and disseminated by her followers.
In the fall-out from this case, the Greek authorities banned all their athletes from using social media to state any personal opinions on any subject except their condition or the Olympic Games until it was over.
Another Olympian who found himself going home in disgrace was the Swiss soccer player who made threatening and racist messages about South Koreans. Shortly after the Switzerland team lost 2-1 to the South Koreans, Morganella tweeted that South Koreans “can go burn” and described them as a “bunch of mongoloids.”
Even though he posted the offending Tweets in a variation of French slang and text messaging languages, they were soon brought to the attention of the authorities. Shortly after posting the Tweets, Morganella went home in disgrace after issuing public apologies to the South Koreans and his team mates.
The American track and field star has made mistakes on Twitter on a couple of occasions. Most recently, people were offended with her answers to a request for a race from Eric LeGrand, the paralyzed former Rutgers football player. Luckily for Jones, LeGrand was not upset by the remarks and forgave her for not knowing who he was when she posted.
This was not the first time that Jones has made a mistake on Twitter. After the US Men’s archery team lost the gold medal to Italy she said “USA Men’s Archery lost the gold medal to Italy, but that ok, we are Americans…When’s da gun shooting competition?” A retraction and later apology smoothed things over, but Jones did not learn her lesson.
Hope Solo and Brandi Chastain
Hope Solo. the goalkeeper for the US women’s national team in the London Olympics was upset by comments made by expert summarizer Chastain in the aftermath of the 3-0 victory over Columbia. The comments criticized the performance of a fellow defender, Rachel Buehler in the first half and Solo took offence.
With the Tweet, “Lay off commentating about defending and gking until you get more educated @BrandiChastaini the game has changed from a decade ago.”, the outspoken Solo hit back against the criticism of her team mate.
These are not the only famous people to make mistakes on social media, but these errors of judgment demonstrate how easy it is for anyone to cause offence or controversy by posting before thinking.