Ashton Kutcher announces Twitter hiatus after Joe Paterno tweet

Dylan Stableford
The Cutline

Ashton Kutcher--one of the most followed people on Twitter--announced on Thursday that he is taking an indefinite hiatus from personally tweeting from his account after a backlash over a comment he made in support of Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

On Wednesday night, Kutcher wrote to his 8 million-plus followers:

How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste

He later deleted the tweet, but not before it ricocheted around the Internet.

On Thursday, the "Two and a Half Men" star announced on his blog that he is turning over the "management" of his Twitter account to staffers at Katalyst Media, Kutcher's tech start-up.

"Up until today, I have posted virtually every one of my tweets on my own," Kutcher wrote, "but clearly the platform has become too big to be managed by a single individual. ... Twitter has grown into a mass publishing platform, where [one's] tweets quickly become news that is broadcast around the world and misinformation becomes volatile fodder for critics."

Kutcher continued:

Last night after returning home from work, I walked by the television and simply saw a headline that Joe Paterno had been fired. Having no more information than that, I assumed that he had been fired due to poor performance as an aging coach. As a football fan and someone who had watched Joe's career move from that of legend/innovator to a head coach that fulfilled his duty in the booth, I assumed that the university had let him go due to football related issues. With that assumption (how dare I assume) I posted a tweet defending his career. I then [went] about my evening, had some dinner, did a little work, and about an hour later turned on ESPN where I got the full story. I quickly went back on my twitter account and found a hailstorm of responses calling me an "idiot" and several other expletives that I've become accustom to hearing for almost anything I post. I quickly retracted and deleted my previous post; however, that didn't seem enough to satisfy people's outrage at my misinformed post. I am truly sorry. And moreover am going to take action to ensure that it doesn't happen again. And as an advocate in the fight against child sexual exploitation, I could not be more deeply saddened by the events at Penn State.

A collection of over 8 million followers is not to be taken for granted. I feel responsible to deliver informed opinions and not spread gossip or rumors through my twitter feed. While I feel that running this feed myself gives me a closer relationship to my friends and fans I've come to realize that it has grown into more than a fun tool to communicate with people. While I will continue to express myself through @Aplusk, I'm going to turn the management of the feed over to my team at Katalyst as a secondary editorial measure, to ensure the quality of its content. My sincere apologies to anyone who I offended. It was a mistake that will not happen again.

At a TechCrunch conference in New York earlier this year, Kutcher boasted about his massive following--and how he recognized the power of Twitter long before his contemporaries.

"I have pretty expansive social media reach," Kutcher said, noting his 6 million Twitter followers and 9 million Facebook fans at that time were equal to a "social reach" of 15 million. "I saw a potential for mass syndication and a social behavior that is very addictive."

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