The public glare never shines more brightly than when you have said something you wish you hadn’t. Add the wide reach and semi-permanence of Twitter and you’ve got a recipe for personal – and professional – disaster. That’s a lesson being learned the hard way right now at the Summer Olympics, but it’s hardly a new notion. Check out these five immortal Twitter career killers – Olympic and otherwise.
First, there’s the case of Greece’s triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou. On July 22, Papachristou apparently thought it would be a good idea to tweet: “With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!” The Hellenic Olympic Committee, which has tried to establish strict limits on athletes’ use of social media, banned her from participating in the games.
“We are not here just to get medals, but to promote the Olympic ideals, to show our character,” Isidoros Kouvelos, head of the Greek Olympic mission, said in an interview with Skai TV explaining the decision.
Then there’s Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella, who was upset that his team lost to South Korea 2-1 on Sunday. He tweeted: “Je les tous Defonce Coréens, allez vous tous Bruler, bande de trisos,” which translates in English to: “I want to beat up all South Koreans! Bunch of mentally handicapped retards!”
The Swiss Olympic Committee sent Morganella home on Tuesday and others are calling for him to be banned.
“Michel Morganella has discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korean football team as well as the South Korean people,” head of the Swiss mission Gian Gilli said.
With the Olympics, you don’t even have to be an athlete to land in hot water on Twitter. Independent reporter Guy Adams was temporarily suspended from Twitter for alledgedly violating Twitter’s privacy regulations.
And reports out of the United Kingdom indicate that a 17-year-old boy has been arrested due to Twitter comments he made to British diver Tom Daley after Daley and teammate Pete Waterfield finished fourth in the 10-meter synchronized diving event. Daley retweeted a message from the boy that read “You let your dad down i hope you know that.” Daley’s father passed away from brain cancer in 2011. Under Communications Act 2003 s.127, British citizens can be charged with a crime for making malicious or threatening online statements.
But these Olympian gaffes are only the latest in an ongoing string of otherwise savvy and well-meaning people torpedoing their careers in less than 140 characters. Remember these career-ending blasts?
Weinergate. Perhaps the best-known Twitter #Fail of all time, the New York Democratic congressman tried to dodge, parry, and -um – thrust after lewd pictures of him showed up on his Twitter account. But all the evasion was for naught: Weiner would later admit that the photos were posted by him and resigned from Congress.
Chrysler Disses Detroit. When New Media Strategies took over the @ChryslerAutos Twitter account, one of its reps apparently tweeted something on the client’s account instead of their personal account. So when “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fcking drive” showed up on Twitter, the automaker was not amused. The New Media staffer wasn’t either, as he was eventually fired.
Fired on Hiring Day. A brand-new Cisco employee known on Twitter as @theconnor couldn’t contain a bit of personal honesty on Twitter on the very day Cisco offered her a job: “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.” The now-infamous Tweeter soon found an open response from Tim Lavad, a Channel Partner Associate at Cisco, which read: “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.” theconnor, forever labelled the “Cisco Fatty” (though she is neither) endured months of parodies and jokes for months – and yes, the job offer was recinded.
Telling the truth as you see it may seem to be a virtue, but with the Twitterverse always watching, you can be sure someone will be judging what you say. You can all too easily torpedo your career on the skids in the time it takes to type 140 chracters.
“You are fired” image courtesy of Shutterstock.