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Top Internet Scandals of 2011

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Excuse us for a moment for being politically incorrect, but the Internet is full of a lot of dumb people.

To be fair, perhaps they're not always dumb. Perhaps they're just misinformed. Or misled. Or n00bs. Or perhaps more often than not, it's just full of intelligent people making not-so-intelligent choices.

Either way, the Internet is a globally accessible public forum where one wrong move may not only be scrutinized by your social network, but if you're really unlucky, it spreads like wildfire in the news and you're scrutinized by the world. And then get onto lists like this one where we share the top Internet FAILS of 2011. Starting with Twitter's former celebrity darling, Ashton Kutcher.

  1. Ashton's Twitter trip up

    Although he's celebrated for being the first person to reach a million followers on Twitter, even this veteran made the cardinal sin: tweeting before he got the whole story.

    In early November, Penn State Coach Joe Paterno's dismissal was top news due to an alleged sex abuse scandal surrounding Penn State's former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky.

    Kutcher, a fan of Paterno's, assumed the coach was getting fired because of his older age, tweet out the dismissal was in bad taste, moments before realizing the REAL reason he was being let go.

    As a result of the Twitter outrage that bombarded him, Kutcher immediately deleted the offending post, issued an apology via twitter, as well as his blog, and relinquished the management of his twitter, @aplusk, to his team at Katalyst Media.

    NAT: Personally I think Kutcher did everything right. He owned up to his mistake publicly. Wrote a detailed explanation of why it happened and was transparent about it. He's human. Mistakes happen. That's why celebs have publicists to clean up their messes. Unfortunately, the idea that his Twitter won't be his voice anymore seems like an Internet #FAIL all on its own *sigh.*

    MARIE: Yeah, I think people jumped the gun. I get that trolling is the official sport of the Internet, but imagine how it would feel to be one person criticized from a gazillion followers all at once? Ashton Kutcher wasn't a team of people, he's just one guy tweeting his thoughts and it clearly was an error. Clearly. On the other hand, Ashton, Dude. Announce your management is going to be involved? Who hasn't caused a little Internet kerfuffle now and then? Seriously, everything blows over. Internet fact. Don't let the net bully you!

  2. Anthony Weiner's, well... weiner

    New York Congressman and former front-runner for mayor of NYC, Anthony Weiner, went from being a respected public figure to an Internet scandal, thanks to Twitter (and bad life choices).

    It all started when he accidentally tweeted a picture of his junk onto Twitter (instead of DMing it to the lucky gal who was about to be wooed by this). Then he tried to cover it up by saying his social network had been hacked.

    The Internet and then mainstream media caught wind of this and it has now been exposed, through a teary press conference, that he was engaged in sexy digital tweets and Facebook messages with six different women over three years, including a 26-year-old woman from Texas who had dozens of photos, emails, cell phone call logs and FB messages from Weiner. He has since decided to resign from Congress.

    NAT: Did we mention he's married and the wife is preggers? Ya...that's class. Personally, I don't think there's anything unique about his situation. He just happened to be the one that got caught. And the media eagerly made an example of him. Haters gonna hate.

    MARIE: Unlike some celebrities, "leaked nude photos" rarely go over with the same panache when politicians are involved. In all cases of Internet porn, the odds of it going over well tend to favour women. Sorry to say, the odds were against Weiner here even before the pictures made their way onto Twitter!

  3. Nancy Upton's AA showdown

    Clothing company American Apparel, notoriously known for its waif-thin models and provocative ads, recently opened its doors for 12 to 14-size women by introducing its XL size. What better way to celebrate this than by launching an online campaign looking for its first plus-sized aka. "booty-ful" model?

    Enter Nancy Upton, a cheeky 20-something plus-sized gal who recognized the offensive tone of the contest and entered with her own set of provocative pics. She was voted as the clear winner, but American Apparel, not liking the irreverent tone of her entry, refused to recognize her clear victory.

    After a bunch of negative press, American Apparel seemingly offered an olive branch by inviting Upton and her photographer Shannon Skolss to its HQ in Los Angeles to discuss what would've been a better way to market to the plus-sized demographic. Whether the face-to-face was truly fruitful is difficult to say at this point, but here's Upton's blog post on how she thought it went.

    NAT: Nancy is a doll and she's a good example of how activism online can have legs. Now did David strike down Goliath? Not sure about that, but all the controversial discussion and exposure definitely makes me feel like the people have a little more power with holding big companies accountable.

    MARIE: She is a total doll! That was such a fun show too! I mean, Nancy is in that "Don't ask the Internet for an Internet answer if you're not going to listen." The pictures were pretty cheeky, sure, but after American Apparel's old adage of admitting to not designing for or hiring plus-size employees, they had to of been expecting some hazing. I mean, they produce cute looking stretchy knits and it took them how long to increase their range of fits? Good on Nancy.

  4. Gretsky's Daughter - the 20-something Twitter retiree

    This scandal hits close to home with good ol' Canadian-born Wayne Gretzky. Well, actually it's his 22-year-old daughter Paulina Gretzky, whose essentially unknown existence exploded when the Interwebs began to realize she was tweeting some naughty photos of herself. Photos include her in lingerie, bikinis, hot-shorts chest out, lips pouted. You get the picture. And if you don't, you can check them out yourself here.

    Twenty-four thousand followers later and a pivotal dinner with her pops, she announced she would be taking a break from Twitter for a bit. Rumour has it the Great One was one of the names linked to potentially buying the Maple Leafs, so that may explain her sudden disappearance.

    NAT: It's ironic how Anthony Weiner's twitpics are considered lewd while hers are simply sexy. And she's posting them straight to her feed unapologetically. Is that the key? If you're gonna be provocative, do it with intention? Remember kids, if we want to be exhibitionists, don't go into politics! I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of her in 2012. Good PR move on her part.

    MARIE: I don't really get it. I mean, she posted Twitpics like everyone does. Of her new dress, going out and whatever. I didn't see anything scandalous. I think the real scandal was her dad wasn't into it. Then she tweeted the family Christmas photo a day ago. It's either it was a genuine mistake, some attempt at publicity to be the Canadian Kardashians or Paulina just isn't that bright and should probably have corks put at the end of her tweeting thumbs so she doesn't hurt anyone anymore.

  5. Kenneth Cole's Cairo Conundrum

    Earlier this year, right around the early stages of the Arab Spring, Kenneth Cole gave us an unintentional demonstration on how businesses should NOT use Twitter.

    "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo," read the original tweet, which has now been deleted. "Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo."

    What seemed like a clever tie-in to current events at the time quickly became a bad PR day. Kenneth Cole issued two retractions recognizing its insensitivity. Shortly after a satirical Twitter account was anonymously launched filled with mock tweets.

    NAT: Obviously KC's tweet was in such poor taste. Having said that, I'm beginning to wonder how often companies are willing to put out scandalous tweets and immediately retract them, for the press... I'm convinced its gotta be happening.

    MARIE: In retrospect, the tweet wasn't malicious, it's just one of those thoughts you want to keep off the feed. I mean, they didn't go "full Galliano," but it was still offensive.

  6. Sony PlayStation Outage

    Remember when Sony's PlayStation Network went down? So do roughly 70 million other people. In April, reports starting popping up that a widespread outage of the popular gaming network had started in Europe and spread to North America and the rest of the world.

    Sony initially tried to pass it off as downtime due to sporadic maintenance. Then a week later revealed that a hacker had obtained personal information including home addresses, passwords and credit card numbers of PSN account holders and subscribers of the Qriocity streaming service.

    Service wasn't fully restored until June.

    There are reports hacktivist group Anonymous may have been behind this attack, though they have denied it.

    NAT: It's definitely a PR blunder it took Sony a WEEK to reveal to its network of 70 million subscribers that sensitive personal information may have been compromised. Having said that, considering their blockbuster successes this year, I don't think even this outage can affect gamer loyalty.

    MARIE: It was annoying and it's kind of atrocious that they were hacked into so easily. I just couldn't get over how much news there was, like every day there was something on it -- you would have thought the world was ending!

  7. Euro kid who downloaded too much porn

    This one didn't get as much coverage, but is a fail worth mentioning for all of you that don't read the small print. A student in Cork, Ireland ended up racking up a phone bill of more than €1,650 because he mistakenly thought he got unlimited Internet with his new Meteor Bill Pay phone.

    How does one rack up such a bill you ask? Porn. Several gigabytes of porn, some videos up to 25 minutes in length, downloaded onto one mobile device.

    The phone company took some sympathy on the chap and cut the bill to €400.

    NAT: All I have to say is, dude, watch South Park season 15, episode 1 -- HUMANCENTiPAD. It'll make you always read the fine print. And also consider a side job in the online porn industry to pay for that habit of yours.

    MARIE: LOL NAT! Hahaha yeah, screw the college education and go into porn, especially since he's got such a keen eye on the scene. That's over 80 gigabytes of porn he downloaded in one billing cycle! Is that a normal amount? How did they find out he downloaded porn, did he admit it or did the phone company have to go in and examine it his account? It makes me giggle.

Can't wait to see what other scandals make our list in 2012!