Social media isn’t for the faint of heart, nor is it for the clueless or the inattentive. Today, social media is a vast, public platform that’s used by billions of people all across the globe. They’re tweeting, posting to Facebook, pinning, and Instagramming to their heart’s content. Amidst this social media activity, you’re bound to find a slew of catastrophic fails that are not easy to ever live down – especially if you’re a celebrity who’s constantly under the microscope. In no particular order, below are some of the most disastrous celebrity social media fails in recent memory.
The Shaq Attack … backfires!
Shaquille O’Neal was the dominant center during his 19-year career in the NBA. His slam-dunking ability made him a force to be reckoned with. Now retired, Shaq is an analyst for “Inside the NBA,” and he also sometimes spends his time … apparently picking on disabled people on social media.
Perhaps assuming that his NBA dominance could carry over to Instagram, last year the NBA champion mocked Jahmel Binion, a person with a disorder known as ectodermal dysplasia, which hampers hair and tooth growth. The 300 pound-plus O’Neal took a selfie where he screwed up his face, presumably to imitate Binion, and he posted this to his Instagram account. Soon, Shaq received a massive wave of criticism on Twitter for his antics, leading him to delete his questionable selfie. Shaq hasn’t publicly commented on this, yet it could also be that he didn’t know that Binion had ectodermal dysplasia in the first place. That’s why it’s better to err on the side of caution with social media, especially if you’re a notable athlete!
Spike Lee should really double-check the info he tweets
When you’re a celebrity director, sometimes you just don’t have the time to double-check the veracity of the “info” that you’re tweeting out. If you’re Spike Lee, then you’re likely gnashing your teeth about your failure to do so. At the height of the incident surrounding the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, Lee tweeted what he erroneously believed to be Zimmerman’s home address. Unfortunately for him, it happened to be the address of an innocent couple instead.
After the director tweeted the wrong address to his 240,000 followers in 2012, the elderly couple in their 70s was the subject of threats that continued into 2013. Unsurprisingly, the elderly couple sued Lee for this social media mistake of epic proportions, according to ABC News. Lee admitted his action was “stupid,” and reached an out-of-court settlement with the couple.
Alec Baldwin gets pissed at American Airlines
Alec Baldwin has a reputation for being a hothead. In the past, he’s had to apologize for calling his then-11-year-old daughter a “rude, thoughtless pig” in an embarrassing voicemail that was leaked to the media. It’s no surprise that Baldwin’s inability to control his fiery temper has even gotten him in trouble on social media.
In late 2011, the actor took to Twitter to lash out at American Airlines for kicking him off the plane. The circumstances for him being kicked off are downright sad: The actor refused to turn off his mobile phone because he was playing Words With Friends despite he was told to do so. Instead, he went to the plane’s bathroom, angrily slammed the door, and then began belittling airplane staff when they checked on him and, subsequently, kicked him off the flight.
So, like every well-adjusted celeb, he took to Twitter and began airing his dirty laundry there, which prompted a response from American Airlines. The actor even temporarily deleted his Twitter account after the incident, but relax, he started it up again since then (even if it only has 58k followers).
The actor did apologize to his fellow passengers on that flight, and explained the situation in his point of view. Perhaps Baldwin should have waited until 2015: most airlines allow the use of mobile devices during takeoff and landing.
Not cool, Bieber, not cool
Justin Bieber, everyone’s favorite “Baby” singer and tattooed bad boy, should really study up on the foreign places he plans to visit. Maybe then he wouldn’t commit such a culturally offensive, social-media gaffe as this one.
While visiting Japan in 2014, the Biebs posted an Instagram image of himself respectfully bowing in front of Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine – a hot point of contention between Japan, China, and Korea since it’s believed to enshrine the souls of some of Japan’s World War II criminals. Except, of course, the Biebs didn’t know that at all. He should have, though.
After receiving a storm of hateful social media comments in response to the picture, Bieber took the image down and replaced it with a contrite apology.
James Franco cruises for a 17-year-old on Instagram
We know James Franco from the Spider-Man trilogy and, way back when, the TV show Freaks and Geeks. However, now we know that he also tries picking up underage, teen girls on social media sites such as Instagram.
It happened in 2014 when he met then-17-year-old Lucy Clode at his Broadway showing of Of Mice and Men. After she took an Instagram video with the actor, he invited her to tag him on Instagram later that night, and the two began exchanging direct messages on the site.
Right from the start, Franco asks Lucy how old she is, if she’s single, if she has a boyfriend, and what her hotel is. We have a sneaking suspicion that he didn’t want to meet up with her just to be an older, brotherly mentor type of figure. Franco even provided context-relevant pictures of himself during the direct-messaging fiasco, proving it was him.
Later on, the actor even admitted to trying to pick up the teen when he appeared on Live! with Kelly and Michael, admitting that he used bad judgment. Franco even tweeted about this incident, telling parents to keep their teens away.
Gilbert Gottfried’s Japan Tsunami tweets cost him his Aflac gig
Remember those old commercials for insurance company Aflac, featuring that annoying duck with the loud, harsh voice? Well, if you’ve been wondering why they haven’t sounded exactly like they used to in the last few years, you can thank comedian Gilbert Gottfried. Gottfried, also memorable as the voice of Iago in Disney’s Aladdin, tweeted a bunch of exploitative and insensitive tweets in the aftermath of the disastrous Japan tsunami and ensuing earthquake of 2011.
Almost immediately, the insurance company fired the comedian, seeing how Aflac did 75% of its business in Japan! Yikes. It replaced Gottfried with unknown Dan McKeague, who imitated Gottfried’s voice in the ongoing duck ads.
Better luck next time, Gilbert. Word to the wise: The next time there’s a monstrous disaster in any part of the world, which causes a tremendous amount of death and destruction, celebrities just should think twice about taking to Twitter to write some 140-character-or-less jokes at the expense of the dead and dying. Just sayin’.
Wannabe reality stars that lose touch with reality
Amy’s Baking Company sounds like a nice, homey bakery, located in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s run by Amy Bouzaglo and her husband Samy. The two appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares show, where they asked him to help their struggling eatery. However, all hell broke loose instead, and the episode turned into the show’s most notorious.
Usually it’s Ramsay who comes off as the loud and demanding one. However, it was the Bouzaglos who outdid the hot-headed celebrity chef. In a first on Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay actually walked out on the couple after determining they were beyond help. That should’ve been a huge warning as to what happened next.
After the episode aired, the Bouzaglos got a ton of hateful comments on their bakery’s Facebook page (not to mention Yelp and other social networks where the restaurant had a presence) because of how they carried themselves, so they did what any two overly defensive and potentially loopy restaurateurs did: They took on all the nasty Facebook comments one by one until they were trading insults left and right with their Facebook critics (the Bouzaglos claimed their social media accounts got hacked). The result was a PR nightmare (interestingly, even the PR firm they hired for crisis control called it quits) that they’ll probably never live down.
Social media is not celebrities’ friend
Social media is a powder keg waiting to happen, particularly if you’re a celebrity or other public personality who doesn’t have the best decision-making skills. On the other hand, watching these implosions is quite humorous, to say the least. One thing’s guaranteed, though: celebrities are going to continue doing stuff like this because they need the publicity. And we’ll keep monitoring and laughing.