If the above screenshot doesn’t tell the story already, let me fill you in: Ashton Kutcher ignorantly sent out the above tweet regarding the recent firing of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who was fired for not properly reporting child sexual abuse.
Kutcher immediately felt the backlash of tweeting without knowing the whole story. He looked like a fool at best, an insensitive jerk at worst. He has since issued apologies via Twitter and blog post, and he has turned over his Twitter account to his production company, Katalyst.
Although this change in feed management will undoubtedly improve the number of gaffes posted, I can’t help but think it’s a mistake. Kutcher gained more than 8 million followers because it was clear that he was the one tweeting. Fans like to feel a direct connection to the celebrities they admire, and Twitter has been one of the few ways they could do that.
Followers of Kutcher’s feed can now look forward to generic tweets promoting his work instead of getting insight into his random thoughts and daily life. And now when @aplusk retweets or replies to you? It’s not actually the guy you want, it’s just someone masquerading as him.
Celebrities have recovered from worse slip-ups, and I think Kutcher will get over this hurdle before the world bats an eye. However, I think it would be in his best interest to stay in touch with fans himself rather than by proxy. A genuine apology and some self-restraint would probably be enough for people to forgive and forget. It might be hard to have it both ways—the benefits of the personal interaction without the potential harm to reputation—but just think before you tweet and messes like this won’t happen in the first place.