Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) has taken a Twitter vow of silence. Please, hold your applause until the end of the blog.
Although he was once practically the Prince of Twitterverse, Ashton will have to work hard to pull back his reputation after the year he has had. There have been allegations of infidelity, incriminating photographs…and now, his ill-informed tweet regarding disgraced American football coach, Joe Paterno.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the situation, here’s a quick rundown. Joe Paterno is the ex-coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions – a college football team. He was fired after allegedly failing to tell the police about his knowledge of colleague Jerry Sandusky’s sexual misconduct towards students. Although not guilty of any direct wrongdoing, many believe it was his moral responsibility to inform the police of what he knew.
Anyway, shortly after Paterno’s dismissal, Ashton tweeted: “How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste”. Now you may be thinking Ashton, you idiot…but he claims he was not fully aware of the situation upon posting that status update.
Ashton, Ashton, Ashton – have you learned nothing? You cannot just post updates willy nilly. You need to have all the facts before publishing social media content. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.
I won’t bore you with all the gory details, but some of the responses to Ashton’s tweet included: “@aplusk = IDIOT!” from @PaulJC1969 and “maybe you should use your brain & get the facts b4 you tweet like an idiot” from @kaykaymour. It is probably safe to assume there were a few hundred or even thousand along these lines.
To be fair though, some did ask his followers to give the guy a break – with @TylerCoates arguing: “We’re being too hard on @aplusk tonight. Poor guy is so buys learning those brilliant lines on that smart and funny show to read the news!” Not a ‘Two and a Half Men’ fan then, Tyler?!
Ashton has been scrambling to defend himself over the past few days. Firstly, he posted an update that read: “Heard Joe was fired, fully recant previous tweet. Didn’t have full story. #admitwhenYoumakemistakes”. Then, he took the moral (cheap) stance: “As an advocate in the fight against child sexual exploitation, I could not be more remorseful for all involved in the Penn St. case.”
Finally, he just gave up. His last tweet read: “As of immediately I will stop tweeting until I find a way to properly manage this feed. I feel awful about this error. Won’t happen again.”
This is a prime example of how social broadcasting can be a really great thing – but it can also damage a person/brand’s reputation in seconds. Even if you post a tweet then delete it seconds later, you can bet your bottom dollar a journalist has already seen it and started writing their expose on your actions.
Hopefully brands can take a lesson from Ashton’s mistake. Think before you tweet and if you don’t have the capacity/time to do that, hire a professional to manage your social media feeds instead. The cost involved is nothing compared to the millions of pounds and years it could take to pull back a damaged reputation.