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Tue Mar 03 10:52:37 SAST 2015

Website grovels after offensive tweet to Oscar nominee

Reuters | 27 February, 2013 00:07
Actress Quvenzhane Wallis at the Oscars ceremony in Hollywood. The Onion satirical website has apologised for making an offensive remark about her in a tweet
Image by: CHRISTOPHER POLK/GALLO IMAGES

The Onion, the satirical US website and tabloid that routinely skewers celebrities, apologised yesterday for what it called a crude and offensive tweet directed at nine-year-old Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis.

The Internet was abuzz with commentary after The Onion on Sunday night referred to the young best actress nominee using a four-letter term usually regarded as the most offensive in the English language.

The apology was made as South Africans are being warned that an offensive tweet could result in their being charged and jailed for between three and six months.

Steve Hannah, The Onion's chief executive, said: "On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhane Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive - not to mention inconsistent with The Onion's commitment to parody and satire, however biting.

"No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humourless comment masquerading as satire."

The Onion removed the tweet within an hour of its publication, instituted stricter safeguards related to the use of Twitter and took steps to discipline the people responsible, Hannah said.

The star of Beasts of the Southern Wild became the youngest ever best actress nominee and revelled in the limelight .

Emma Sadleir, a social media lawyer at Webber Wentzel, said this week that people affected by posts that referred to them by name would be able to lay a charge of crimen injuria at a police station - provided that they are able to prove that their dignity had been violated.

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