Tales from the Trail

U.S. State Dept. figures out how to say “Twitter” in Arabic

February 9, 2011

It took a while, but the U.S. State Department is now tweeting in Arabic.

EGYPT/With unprecedented political turmoil rocking Egypt and protesters turning to social media such as Twitter and Facebook, the mouthpiece of U.S. foreign policy wants in on the game.

Its first message? #Egypt #Jan25 تعترف وزارة الخارجية الأمريكية بالدور التاريخي الذي يلعبه الإعلام الإجتماعي في العالم العربي ونرغب أن نكون جزءاً من محادثاتكم

(Translation: “We want to be a part of your conversation!”)

The new State Department Arabic Twitter feed, @USAbilaraby, joins a growing chorus of Twitter feeds describing and commenting on events in Egypt and across the Arab world, where social media is helping to broadcast political ferment.

The feed, which currently has a scant 161 followers, has passed along messages including President Barack Obama’s statement that the future of Egypt is in the hands of the Egyptian people and Vice President Joe Biden’s demand that Egypt immediately stop harassing journalists and scrap its emergency law.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has directed the State Department to spare no effort to harness the power of the Internet to spread the U.S. message, and has repeatedly emphasized that Internet freedom — like freedom of speech — is an inalienable right. She has drawn the lines at Wikileaks, but there the rationale is that the leaked State Department cables are stolen property belonging to the U.S. government.

State Department spokesman @PJCrowley  has more than 18,000 followers on Twitter, while Clinton’s senior adviser for innovation @AlecJRoss,  who regularly opines about technology and U.S. diplomacy, has more than 300,000.

Photo credit:  Reuters/Steve Crisp (Egyptian opposition supporters talk near graffiti referring to the social networking site Twitter in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 5, 2011)

Comments
2 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

You aren’t going to undo 57 years of Republican middle east (and everywhere else) screw ups with this gesture (nice as it is).

Posted by ErnestPayne | Report as abusive
 

The U.S. message can be quite snarky. Current top tweet: “Iran’s words regarding Egypt are empty; Iran should give its people the same rights of assembly and speech as in Cairo” (translated, obviously).

Posted by al-Mustashriq | Report as abusive
 

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