Roger Ebert's Ill-Advised Tweet Nets 10K New Followers

Photograph of film critic Roger Ebert working at a laptop.

Roger Ebert photo courtesy of Marich Terz on Flickr



Film critic Roger Ebert gained roughly 10,500 new Twitter followers in two days after his Tweet saying “Friends don’t let jackasses drive drunk” in response to the high-speed car accident death of Jackass star Ryan Dunn.

THOUGHT: You want 10,500 new Twitter followers? Here’s what you do:

  1. Be a celebrity.
  2. Tweet something asinine.
  3. Be unapologetic to prolong the story.
  4. Relent and, finally, apologize and see the error of your ways.

We’ve seen this movie before…over and over and again: A celebrity tweets something stupid, the Internet goes crazy over it, their follower count goes up, sometimes they react well and the story dies quickly but often they react poorly and they end up creating a bigger PR headache for themselves than need be.

Ebert is an interesting case, though.

Whether alcohol is involved or not, criticism of the deceased coming the same day of the person’s demise is unseemly any way you measure it. But Ebert may have felt he was immune to criticism because he himself has struggled with alcohol abuse.

The other twist in this story is that Facebook took down his page in what they said was an error but sure looks to be a case of an itchy trigger finger. They have stated policies against hate speech but Ebert’s comments, though stoopid and insensitive as hell, hardly qualify as hateful.

I didn’t know this because I don’t make it a habit of paying attention to film critics, but Ebert lost his lower jaw to cancer, stealing his ability to speak. It was social media that gave him his voice back. [WATCH his TED Talk on the matter at]

Apparently, what Facebook giveth, Facebook can taketh away.

After a bit of defensive bluster, Ebert has since apologized and as a result, the story is now dead. It’s what he should’ve done in the beginning.

Still…10,500 new followers.


FOLLOW FRIDAY: Eric Schwartzman and his On The Record…Online podcast, a must-listen for communications pros.


Thank you for the wheel. It’s a pretty useful invention.


The e-Strategy Academy covers all aspects of digital marketing including search optimization & marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, video marketing, mobile marketing & public relations.