The U.S. Embassy in Cairo could use a good social media editor after two disastrous days on Twitter. The embassy's problems began Tuesday, when they (or whoever is in charge of their Twitter account) tweeted a link to The Daily Show's passionate defense of "Egypt's Jon Stewart" Bassem Youseff, who was arrested last weekend for insulting President Mohamed Morsi and Islam. That tweet didn't go over well with the offices of Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood.
— Egyptian Presidency (@EgyPresidency) April 2, 2013
Another undiplomatic & unwise move by @usembassycairo, taking sides in an ongoing investigation & disregarding Egyptian law & culture
— Ikhwanweb (@Ikhwanweb) April 2, 2013
So the American embassy, having learned nothing from the internet's past, attempted to scrub the offending tweet, going so far as to delete embassy's entire Twitter feed. When the feed was restored, the tweet linking to The Daily Show had been deleted. That decision, according to a report in Foreign Policy, was made by Anne Patterson, the American ambassador in Cairo, before she'd consulted with her superiors in Washington. Those superiors, apparently, were not happy with the feed's removal and ordered it be put back up, so it didn't "appear that the United States is caving to the online pressure." That, of course, is exactly what it looked like.
Worse, it inspired a fake Cairo embassy account. And even worse than that, poor old Rick Sanchez was drawn into the fray by the Muslim Brotherhood, who cited his anti-semetic rant against Jon Stewart as evidence of...something. Sanchez, of course, wanted nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood's association and tweeted as much, even linking to Stewart's defense of Youseff. (Related: Sanchez now a Fox News contributor "searching for truth," which makes sense).
As for deleting the initial Tweet (and then, the entire feed), Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, admitted doing so was a mistake.
"Embassy Cairo's Twitter feed is back up now," Nuland said. "We've had some glitches with the way the Twitter feed has been managed."
Glitches. Yes, just a few of those.