Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 August 2019

From Danny Baker to Sondos Al Qattan: celebrities who have been fired over social media posts

Baker, who was a BBC Radio 5 Live presenter, is the latest high-profile sacking after an ill-thought-out social media post

BBC DJ Danny Baker was fired after using a picture of a chimpanzee in a tweet about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's baby Archie. AP
BBC DJ Danny Baker was fired after using a picture of a chimpanzee in a tweet about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's baby Archie. AP

Social media is an unforgiving place.

Many a star has met their demise via the likes of Twitter, Instagram or Facebook over the years, after a (usually) very public backlash to something they deemed worthy to share with their legions of followers.

Whether it be a light-hearted joke, or a pointed jab, vigilante justice is usually served by said post going viral, and in turn, reflecting questionably on the scribe's employer. Millions of dollars in endorsement deals and contracts have been squandered after a few errant taps on a phone keyboard.

Former BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Danny Baker is the latest to have been caught in the cross hairs of his own social media musings – after he tweeted a picture of a chimpanzee in reference to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's newborn son on Wednesday.

The Twitter storm that followed was swift and unrelenting. By Thursday, he had been fired from his job and was being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.

But Baker isn't the first to fall foul of the social media code of ethics and he certainly won't be the last.

Here are eight well-known figures who have forced to fall on their sword following an unfortunate social media outburst.

Danny Baker

The BBC Radio 5 Live presenter, game show host, journalist and comedy writer's tweet featured a photo of a man and woman holding hands with a chimpanzee in a suit and a top hat, along with the caption, "Royal baby leaves hospital".

In a later tweet, Baker swore his jibe at the newborn Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was "supposed to be a joke about Royals vs circus animals in posh clothes but interpreted as about monkeys & race, so rightly deleted".

The public, however, were not convinced. Within hours, he was out of a job and being investigated by Scotland Yard after a member of the public complained to police.

The 61-year-old responded by tweeting on Friday that his faux pas "was a genuine, naive and catastrophic mistake".

"Following one of the worst days of my life I just want to formally apologise for the outrage I caused and explain how I got myself into this mess," he wrote.

Over six ensuing tweets, Baker acknowledged he had been "shamefully racist" and apologised for trying to make light of the gaffe.

Katie Hopkins

Katie Hopkins understood her currency was controversy and often drew criticism for her controversial remarks. Getty 
Katie Hopkins understood her currency was controversy and often drew criticism for her controversial remarks. Getty 

It's perhaps unsurprising that the views of Hopkins have drawn consequences.

After all, the broadcaster has almost become as well-known for her public sharing of vitriol as her presenting career.

Hopkins, who first rose to fame as a contestant on the British version of The Apprentice in 2007, has regularly attracted criticism for her very anti-Muslim, pro-US President Donald Trump views.

But in May 2017, Hopkins finally went a step too far when she posted a tweet calling for the "final solution" to Islamic terrorism in the wake of the Manchester terror attack.

Backlash followed for her use of the phrase "final solution" – with many likening it to the term used by the Nazis in reference to the Holocaust. Hopkins later adjusted her tweet to use the phrase "true solution", saying the earlier version was a "mis-type".

However, one of her employers certainly wasn't buying it, and she was sacked from London-based national phone-in and talk radio station LBC, where she hosted a show.

PewDiePie

Pewdiepie was once YouTube's biggest stars. 
Pewdiepie was once YouTube's biggest stars. 

Social media giveth, and social media taketh away.

The Swedish YouTuber got his big break on the video streaming platform and, ironically, it was the same platform in which he planted the seed of his own demise.

At the time of his public embarrassment, PewDiePie – real name Felix Kjellberg – was the world's highest-paid YouTube star.

In January 2017, the influencer used the N-word in one of his videos, and in the same month, was accused of anti-Semitism.

The Swede was subsequently dropped from the Google Preferred advertising programme, his YouTube Red series was cancelled and Disney cut all ties with him.

Israel Folau

Israel Folau has posted homophobic slurs on Instagram several times before his latest blunder. Getty
Israel Folau has posted homophobic slurs on Instagram several times before his latest blunder. Getty

No one is quite sure yet how severe the consequences will be for Australian rugby star Israel Folau.

It's not the first time the 30-year-old devout Christian has posted his controversial views on social media and caused an uproar – but it's arguably his most serious.

Folau, who plays for the Australian national rugby team the Wallabies, posted a homophobic message on Instagram on April 10 and incited a huge amount of backlash, leading to debate raging over what his punishment would be. Rugby Australia initially indicated he would be dropped from the sport, but until now no concrete decision on his employment has been made.

As he awaits disciplinary action, Super Rugby’s all-time highest try-scorer has been dropped by sponsors Asics and Land Rover.

If he is sacked from the national team, it will be the first time an athlete has been dropped for expressing religious beliefs in Australia.

Sondos Al Qattan

Sondos Al Qattan prompted a backlash with her comments on social media. Sondos Al Qattan / Instagram
Sondos Al Qattan prompted a backlash with her comments on social media. Sondos Al Qattan / Instagram

Not only did social media influencer Sondos Al Qattan incite rage over a social media faux pas, but unlike many before her, she refused to apologise for it.

The controversy began when Al Qattan posted a video to her 2.3 million Instagram users in July last year, complaining that new laws meant Filipino workers in Kuwait had the right to keep their own passports and have a day off. Her comments resulted in a huge backlash on social media.

Days later, Al Qattan posted a statement on her Instagram account calling the backlash "rumours", and saying that she treated all her employees fairly. The statement did not contain an apology; but instead, she took the opportunity to thank those who called her "beautiful from the outside".

Max Factor Arabia and Mac Cosmetics severed ties with the beauty influencer, but a number of others, including Dior, continued to work with her.

Roseanne Barr

Roseanne Barr is a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump who has previously used Twitter to voice hard-right and conspiracy theorist views AFP 
Roseanne Barr is a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump who has previously used Twitter to voice hard-right and conspiracy theorist views AFP 

Perhaps the most infamous social media blunder of all; the fall was swift for one-time TV darling Roseanne Barr.

In May 2018, Barr was decried forevermore as a racist, after she referred to Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to former President Barack Obama, as the child of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes film.

Perhaps making the situation ever worse for herself, Barr blamed her offending tweets on a sleeping pill.

"It was 2 in the morning and I was Ambien tweeting – it was memorial day too – I went 2 far & do not want it defended – it was egregious, indefensible," she wrote. "I made a mistake I wish I hadn't but ... don't defend it please."

ABC responded by cancelling its hit reboot of Roseanne almost immediately, her agent dropped her, and other services pulled Roseanne reruns.

William Sitwell

William Sitwell, the editor who resigned for his anti-vegan comments, has joined the 'Telegraph' as a restaurant critic. Instagram
William Sitwell, the editor who resigned for his anti-vegan comments, has joined the 'Telegraph' as a restaurant critic. Instagram

Veganism seems to bring out the worst kind of social media commentators, whether it's Piers Morgan (Greggs's vegan sausage roll never had a more vocal adversary) or William Sitwell.

Sitwell, a one-time Masterchef judge and the editor of Waitrose & Partners Food magazine resigned after a leaked email exchange in which he suggested a series on "killing vegans".

The email stated: “How about a series on killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat?”

This was perhaps made even worse by a follow-up email in which Sitwell wrote: “I like the idea of a column called The Honest Vegan; a millennial’s diary of earnest endeavour and bacon sandwiches...”

Although he apologised, Sitwell lost his job – though was later appointed as the Daily Telegraph's new restaurant critic. His first assignment? A vegan restaurant.

James Gunn

James Gunn will return to the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' franchise, seven months after being fired. AP
James Gunn will return to the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' franchise, seven months after being fired. AP

The last example in our round-up seems to present a new theory: in that, even if you are fired for a social media gaffe, you might actually get your job back.

Gunn was let go as director of the third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy after old tweets surfaced, in which he joked about issues such as sexual abuse.

At the time of his sacking, the filmmaker apologised for his social media posts, telling fans his words were "totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative".

But six months later, Gunn managed to get himself back on the bill, and he tweeted his appreciation to Disney for the opportunity.

“I am always learning and will continue to work at being the best human being I can be," the 51-year-old, who was behind the first and second Guardians films, wrote on Twitter.

Updated: May 13, 2019 11:25 AM

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