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