The problem? The Hollywood actor apparently read only a headline and didn’t wait to verify why Paterno was bounced before he hit “Tweet.”
"How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste," Kutcher said in a tweet that has since been deleted. "I assumed that he had been fired due to poor performance as an aging coach," he later tried to explain.
Yup, big mistake, given that the school had been shrouded in a child sex abuse scandal for days.
Kutcher vowed to take a Twitter hiatus and hand his account over to his handlers, but he is hardly the only star who has embarrassed him or herself on Twitter.
Last year, as part of the city's effort to inform motorists, Kim Kardashian tweeted a 10-mile stretch of an LA freeway was closed. The only problem was she tweeted the wrong closer day. And then she tweeted the wrong closure day ... for another wrong day.
Cee Lo Green was accused of homophobia by tweeting an editor who dared criticize his performance: "I'm guessing you're gay? And my masculinity offended you? Well f**k you!"
The offending tweet and its subsequent apology were both deleted.
“Twitter reveals celebrity personalities in an authentic way and gives them direct access to their fans. What they publish can build or hurt their brand, yet they can always apologize if they mess up,” branding and marketing expert, Dan Schawbel, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “You get a better sense of celebrities on Twitter because there’s no spin, and some of the most prominent celebrity accounts aren’t run by PR agencies – you are getting access to the actual person.”
Calum Brannan, social media expert and co-founder of the social media risk management company CrowdControlHQ.com, has some common sense advice for stars: if you wouldn’t’ say it to your grandmother don’t say it on Twitter.
“It's such as huge communication channel where things become viral in minutes, if people are going to say silly things then you have to expect there to be controversy," he said. "Be prepared to explain yourself and fast if you're likely to offend.”
So if a high-profile person isn’t extra careful, the popular fan-building tool can equal career suicide.
“Just ask Anthony Weiner,” said media/pop culture commentator Mikey Glazer, referring to the former New York-based U.S. congressman who was forced to resign earlier this year after accidentally sending a link to a sexually suggestive photograph of himself via his public Twitter account. “Did phone sex, the Internet, or cell phone cameras ruin careers and marriages and personal reputations? Yes. Twitter will too.”
Jaw-dropping tweets can also come at a high price, like in 2010 when Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was fined $25,000 for tweeting before and during a preseason game even though his club had a no game day tweeting policy. On other occasions, those fast-thinking, five-finger updates can also end up in the courtroom.
Courtney Love allegedly has to pay a $430,000 to settle a defamation suit filed against her by a Texas-based fashion designer over a series of tweets the rocker made, which included such things as calling the designer an “asswipe nasty lying hosebag thief.”
In July Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall filed a $1 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against Hanesbrands, Inc. after his endorsement contract was canned after his tweet following the death of Usama Bin Laden.
"What kind of person celebrates death? It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We've only heard one side,” Mendenhall tweeted.
Glazer said its important to remember that celebrities are human – and with that, comes inevitable human error.
“If anyone had two million fact checkers/watch dogs scrutinizing 140 characters of their text that they fired off quickly on a mobile phone, there would be lots of ill-conceived embarrassments,” he added. “It’s only the people with heavy followings that get noticed.”
Hollie McKay has a been a Fox News Digital staff reporter since 2007. She has extensively reported from war zones including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Burma and investigates global conflicts, war crimes and terrorism around the world. Follow her on twitter and Instagram @holliesmckay