More are finding that tweets' effects are instant
Twitter has ingratiated itself as a daily media fixture delivering cultural and news tidbits to an information-ravenous public. The quick-moving, instantaneous forum is often a double-edged sword for celebrities, who can reach the masses with one uncensored click; but quick-fingered, loose-lipped tweets can do instant damage.
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — From behind the highly secretive Jackson dynasty's once-impenetrable wall, Prince and Paris Jackson appeared to be airing their family's dirty laundry this week in a typical way for a teen — on their Twitter feeds.
Their tweets about the alleged disappearance of their grandmother, matriarch Katherine Jackson, were emotionally charged and prolific.
This comes in the same week that Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou was banned from competing in the Olympics after she sent out a Tweet perceived to be racist. On Thursday, Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher banned his players from using Twitter for the rest of the year after one of his players posted rap lyrics about killing police officers.
And after Kristen Stewart's apology for her "momentary indiscretion" with married "Snow White and the Huntsman" director Rupert Sanders, "Twilight" fans have taken to Twitter to express their anger toward Stewart and their support for her longtime boyfriend and co-star, Robert Pattinson.
Twitter has ingratiated itself as a daily media fixture delivering cultural tidbits to an information-ravenous public, but it's increasingly finding itself in the spotlight as well.
The instantaneous forum is often a double-edged sword for celebrities, who can bypass the tabloids and reach the masses with one uncensored click; but quick-fingered, loose-lipped tweets can do instant damage.
More frequently, celebrity Twitter feeds are being managed by wary flacks with an eye toward reining in their clients and avoiding potential missteps. The trend may be counterintuitive to the immediate, unfettered nature of Twitter, but some say it's a necessary evil.
"The great news about Twitter is celebs can talk instantaneously and directly to their fans; the bad news is, celebs can talk instantaneously and directly to their fans," says Howard Bragman, a longtime publicist and vice chairman of Reputation.com.
"In the last three to five years social media has become so much more important than traditional media — people decide what movies and concerts to go to based on it — and yet it doesn't have the same safeguards," he says.
Even R&B singer Chris Brown, who was vacationing in the French Riviera this week (perhaps with Rihanna, according to close watchers of her Twitter feed), jumped onto his own Twitter feed from abroad, calling for a truce among the Jacksons. "Stop making y'all business public!" he wrote. "Michael was under enough scrutiny ... Work y'all (stuff) out as a family."
Celebrity Twitter scandals are far from new. As A-listers of all stripes become more prolific on the frenetic, fast-paced social-media platform — whether to show support for a national disaster, promote an upcoming project or simply to announce the imminent shampooing of their pink-clad Chihuahua — their (highly entertaining) social-media missteps seem to multiply.
Tori Spelling's husband, Dean McDermott, accidentally tweeted a shot of his wife's naked breast last year while attempting to show off their son, Liam. Charlie Sheen tweeted his cellphone number to the world last year when trying to send a direct message to Justin Bieber.
At the height of the Penn State scandal, Ashton Kutcher tweeted his support of Joe Paterno — allegedly before he knew the full allegations against the coach — and was instantly attacked by fans. Shortly thereafter, he turned over the management of his Twitter feed to the social-media wing of his production company, Katalyst, so it could vet his posts. "A secondary editorial measure," he called it. But at what expense?
"Twitter's a real-time medium," says Karen North, an expert in social media at the University of Southern California.
North warns of Twitter's dual potential for both positive connectivity and image tainting. "The power of Twitter is the ability to disseminate information quickly and virally so it will spread exponentially. But we have kind of a 'gotcha' culture — when someone makes a mistake or something goes wrong, it's far more interesting to us," she says.
It's a common saying in the digital sphere that Facebook is where you lie to your friends, and Twitter is where you tell the truth to strangers.
But the social-media platform's roots as both a personal broadcast of sorts, as well as a (perceived) intimate line of communication between A-listers and the public are changing.
"The day of the tweeting specialist is about to arrive," says Eddie Michaels, president of Insignia PR, which handles the actors Noah Wyle and Lou Diamond Phillips. "At first, Twitter was thought of like the telephone, talking to one person; but it's no longer a personal-communication tool. Twitter is no different than sitting on a national TV-talk show. So it's one of those things that's definitely at the top of the list of internal discussions for us."