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By Kat Giantis
Social media is a minefield, and it blew up all over James Franco this week. On Friday, he offered up a mea culpa after his apparent efforts to pick up a 17-year-old girl via Instagram were leaked online.
During a sit-down on "Live! With Kelly and Michael," he wasted no time in addressing the creepy incident, during which he seemingly tried to arrange a hotel rendezvous with a Scottish high school student named Lucy.
"I was feeling awkward -- I didn't want to come on the show and just feel awkward," he told the hosts. "I'm embarrassed, and I guess I'm just a model of how social media is tricky."
See, despite Franco's many artistic expressions via Instagram, not to mention his treatise for the New York Times on social media, the 35-year-old star claims the exchange happened due to his ignorance.
"It's way that people meet each other today, but what I've learned -- I guess just because I'm new to it -- is you don't know who's on the other end," said James. "You meet someone in person, you get a feel for them. But you don't know who you're talking to. I used bad judgment, and I learned my lesson."
He pointed out that everyone has to go through the "embarrassing" steps of meeting someone, but it's worse for celebrities.
"Unfortunately, in my position -- I mean, I have a very good life -- but not only do I have to the embarrassing kind of rituals of meeting someone, sometimes if I do that, then it gets published for the world," adds Franco. "So now, it's doubly embarrassing."
Ripa tried to ease the awkwardness by joking, "I promise I will not reveal our text messages."
Franco's mortification appears well-earned. He reportedly met Lucy earlier this week while greeting fans outside the stage door of his Broadway show "Of Mice and Men." She shot a video of the moment, and he told her to tag him on Instagram, which she did.
Their conversation in the wee hours of Tuesday morning included her age revelation (she's "nearly 18), if she had a boyfriend ("not if you're around") and James' efforts for a face-to-face confab ("You're single? What's the hotel? Should I rent a room?").
At one point, when Lucy mentioned how her Scottish friends would never believe that she was messaging with James Franco, he responded, "Don't tell."
So, it seems he knew the exchange wasn't on the up-and-up, yet he still sent proof of his identity, in the form of a selfie of him holding a napkin with Lucy's name on it. No meeting ended up taking place.
"I think he ought to get a slap on the wrist, and I know my son, Lucy's dad, wouldn't be afraid to give it to him," Lucy's grandma, fumed to the Daily Mail. "Lucy isn't even 18. It's bad enough a man of his age is approaching her like this, never mind a movie star. I really take exception to this."
Some suspected that the entire thing was a publicity stunt for Franco's forthcoming movie, "Palo Alto," in which he plays a soccer coach infatuated with a high school girl. The film is based on a book of stories penned by Franco. You can read the case for it all being a hoax here.
"I HOPE PARENTS KEEP THEIR TEENS AWAY FROM ME. Thank you," he tweeted after the conversation went public, adding, "PLEASE DON'T DM IF YOU ARE UNDER 18, THANK YOU."
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