Category Archives: Web2.0 Roundup

Somebody hacks the French Foreign Ministry’s Tweets; now vacancy for two Web 2.0 project managers

Via France 24:

The Twitter account of the French ministry of foreign affairs was the victim of cyber-piracy on Thursday, sending thousands of subscribers a hateful message about Roma people.

Usually more concerned with problems of dwindling resources and influence, the French ministry of foreign affairs had an altogether different problem to solve on Thursday: a hacker’s embarrassing post on the ministry’s official Twitter account.

The tweet, the name for a short text posted on the micro-blogging website Twitter, was written in English and strongly insulted Roma people.
At 8:23pm local time, after being online for around an hour, the message disappeared and was replaced with a less offensive tweet (translation of the message pictured in this article): “The account @francediplo has been hacked. We have deleted the message. We will take steps to ensure that this does not happen again.”

Unfortunately for the foreign affairs ministry, the cyber-attack had already been viewed by 46,448 people who follow its Twitter thread.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the website reported spotting a classified ad put out by the beleaguered ministry: “Two 2.0 Web project managers needed immediately.”

Read the whole thing here.

Not the first time they had problems with the internets, with a more elaborate  hoax perpetrated just a couple months ago.



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Top Ten US Embassy Facebook Pages – Worldwide

The Office of Innovation within the Office of the Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (“R”), has put together a site that tracks the number of Facebook fans (1,016,643) for all the 191 pages that the State Department maintains domestically and overseas (h/t to

The Dashboard gives an overall view by date, trend (going up), top gainers (eJournal USA with +509 fans gained on 9/11), bottom 5 losers and top pages (eJournal USA with 180,203 fans, followed by US Embassy Jakarta with 148,429 fans).

We have extracted the data for the top ten Facebook pages of US embassy/related post overseas according to number of fans below.  Regional acronyms: EAP (East Asia Pacific), WHA (Western Hemisphere), SCA (South and Central Asia), NEA (Near East Asia, includes North Africa and Middle East) and AF (Sub-Saharan Africa). US Embassy Macedonia with 4,589 fans is the top European post but none of the EUR posts made it to the top ten pages.

City, Country
# Fans
U.S. Embassy – Jakarta, Indonesia 
US Consulate General Surabaya 
Buenos Aires               
Centro de Recursos Informativos – Embajada de EE.UU. en Buenos Aires      
Paraguay, Asuncion 
Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Paraguay 
La Paz                                     
Embajada de Estados Unidos en La Paz 
Sri Lanka, Colombo            
U.S. Embassy Colombo, Sri Lanka 
South Africa, Pretoria                                    
United States Mission to South Africa 
Egypt, Cairo                            
Study USA-Egypt
Ecuador, Guayaquil                    
Consulado General de los Estados Unidos en Guayaquil 
U.S. Embassy, Manila Philippines 

Click here to see the links to all 191 pages with corresponding data. Given the normally smaller staffing at consulates compared to embassies, it is perhaps striking that Surabaya and Guayaquil’s are in the top list with over 10,000 fans (compared to say larger posts, like London, Paris, or Mexico City, all in the low thousands and have yet to break the 5,000 mark).

An about page has just been added to the site after I posted this blog entry. See below:

This project is a proof of concept (beta) which collects the total fan numbers for State Department Facebook fan pages. Since this is a beta, some of the numbers may be off and there may be gaps in the data.

This only collects Facebook fan numbers and does not pull any information on participation rates, sentiment, personal participant details, or any other data. As such, it is a very high level view of the activity taking place on these pages and is, at best, a crude measurement of how successful these pages are.

How this works:
The system queries Facebook’s open graph once a day and gets the fan totals at that moment. Since you need authentication to pull more specific information (comment rates, likes, etc) the dashboard just pulls public data.

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Filed under Digital Diplomacy, Facebook, Social Media, U.S. Missions, Web2.0 Roundup

US Embassy Jakarta: Facebook Fan Meet-Up is On

 Image from US Embassy Jakarta Facebook

US Embassy Jakarta is piloting its first-ever Facebook Fan meet-up at a Starbucks in downtown Jakarta next week, and then in three more cities in early July.   I am told that if successful, they will expand nationwide, and make it a regular  occurrence on different themes.  This is the embassy’s first-ever use of Foursquare, as they continue to innovate in using social media for public diplomacy.

I think this might be the first meet-up ever organized by a US mission, too. Post is using Foursquare for this meet-up, a mobile application that’s a cross between a friend-finder, a social city-guide, and a game that rewards users “for doing interesting things.” It lets you “check in” to a place when you’re there, tell friends where you are, and track the history of where you’ve been–and who you’ve been there with. Foursquare challenges users to explore their city in “new and fun ways by earning points, winning mayorships, and unlocking badges and specials for trying new places and revisiting old favorites.”
Read more here. Read more about Foursquare here.


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Quickie: Applying social software to digital diplomacy at the State Dept

This one from Alex Howard | @digiphile |

How do you move from a culture of “need to know” to a culture of “need to share?” Richard Boly thinks about the answer to that question every day. Boly, a speaker at next week’s Gov 2.0 Expo, is the director of the Office of eDiplomacy at the State Department. His office is an applied technology think tank within the agency that’s focused on improving the agency’s communication and knowledge sharing.

Boly is responsible for overseeing Virtual Presence Posts (VPPs), enterprise search, classified web publishing, and social networking, including the development of “StateBook.” He recently spoke with me about all of these initiatives, as well as the cultural challenges of integrating social software into a large, distributed enterprise.

Read more here. I think I’ll let this stand with no further comment.

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Smile! You’re a background on YouTube!

From US Embassy Manila (under new management):

US Embassy Manila is also sporting a new website. It’s not the template version that we see in most embassy websites, but it is also less elegant than the previous version. I must say that the old website was getting a tad too crowded and probably needed the redesign, anyway. But the new website feels more cramped; surfing it makes me feel as if I’m in a tiny elevator going slowly to nowhere, you know. 

Please, folks! The last time I counted them, the Philippines has 7,100 islands.  Can’t you make your website reflect that span of space and water in your design? It’s hard to breath online under such cramp quarters. Seriously. 

Although the Tagalog button is non-functional as of this writing, it looks like, the website will eventually become bilingual (Tagalog and English).  This in a country with 175 languages, where at least 10 are considered major and at least 8 are considered co-official.  Heh! It is also a country strong in regionalism, to a point where residents sing their own version of the Philippine National Anthem, so as not to sing it in Tagalog or Filipino, considered the language of Manila — the political and economic capital of the Philippines during the Spanish and American eras.    

While we’re on the subject of the Philippines, you might want to go over to WhirledView and read Patricia Kushlis’ A Macabre Filipino Election Tale – Where the Past Intrudes Upon the Future

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US Embassy Jakarta: More Facebook fans than all US Embassies combined

US Embassy BoothImage by Brian Giesen via Flickr

On April 19, 2010, Thomas Crampton who covers social media in China and Asia had a post about US Embassy Jakarta’s Facebook presence. Yep, our embassy in Indonesia has more Facebook fans than all the US embassies worldwide combined. And if you put together US Mission Indonesia’s Facebook presence in Jakarta, Medan and Surabaya, they’d have more fans than all US embassies and the mother ship combined! That’s pretty cool, guys! Tristram and his team can probably teach that class at FSI on social and new media.  

Excerpt below:

The US Embassy in Jakarta built a fanbase on Facebook larger than the US State Department and larger than all US Embassies combined, according to the man behind the site. The effort has been driven by Tristram Perry and his team out of the Jakarta embassy, Surabaya and Medan. Tristram agreed to take a few questions on his team’s efforts.

First, the stats:

Total fans of the US Embassy and consulates in Indonesia: 161,000
Embassy Jakarta: 128,732
Consulate Surabaya (run by Andi DeArment): 30,800
Consulate Medan: 2,700


U.S. State Department: 36,000
All other consulates and embassies: 102,000

When and how did you start?

We started our Facebook Fan Page in January of 2009. Basically, we established static beachheads on a number of social media platforms and developed them based on interest and time available. We use several different tools, but our efforts are driven by the fact that we are trying to find a way to connect to new audiences, in this case, an urban and suburban 18 to 34 year olds who do not get news and information from traditional news sources. That’s who is online in Indonesia. There’s only 10-12% internet penetration here, but that’s over 25 million people — roughly the equivalent of five Singapores. But the process was pretty organic — the more we worked on the page, the more fans we got, and it had a certain snowball effect.

What advice would give to another embassy or gvt trying to repeat what you did?

That social media is not a second website, it’s a community. Make sure that the people who are assigned to work on it are users themselves. Spark discussion and a sense of community, and give people a reason to belong to it. Know your market and customize your information for your audience. Develop unique, engaging content. Distribute the work, so that it across a group of people and not just personality driven, but matches your institutional strategy and feel. Post regularly, but not too much. Set goals and reassess them periodically.

How do these efforts fit within the broader diplomatic efforts?

Again, everything we do is designed to compliment our traditional public diplomacy and existing programs, whenever possible. There is a big push in the State Department to use social media for public diplomacy. We have an administration that was elected in part through their use of social media is in our own democratic context. If social media can affect a U.S. election, then logically it can be a force for democratic
reform worldwide and empower people to express themselves.

In social media, are there concerns about “losing control”?

For us, it’s not really about control so much as it is about direct, two-way interaction. Since, we are up front about the fact that we do set ground rules and enforce them fairly, I think our fans respect that. People are going to talk about us online, criticize us, disagree with our policies and positions, with or without our efforts in social media. We can choose to join this conversation and give them a chance to express themselves directly to us, or not. Listening to others’ views is also important, not just pushing our own side of the argument. That is the point of having a Facebook page or a Twitter account — the real strength of using social media for public diplomacy is the discussion happening on both sides.

Read the whole thing here.

Thomas Crampton is the Asia-Pacific director of 360 Digital Influence for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.  He heads a team stretching across 23 cities in 15 Asian territories that helps companies conceive, develop and execute strategies in Social Media. He was a correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times for more than a decade, reporting from five continents, writing a column on Asia and covering Asian politics, economics and culture. Currently based in Hong Kong, he writes here about China, the Internet and New Media seen from Asia, while also advising companies on digital communication strategies. He blogs at

UPDATE: I applaud the efforts US Embassy Jakarta put into their online outreach. But I also recognize the nature of the US missions overseas and the inevitable rotations of FSOs in and out of embassies and consulates worldwide. This usually has an impact on post specific programs and priorities.  As an example, one post spent FSO time and resources to obtain ISO standard certification. After partially completing the requirements, the lead FSO and the Front Office sponsors rotated out; the succeeding front office management had other priorities and dropped the entire effort. And that’s only one example.  I have similar concerns at the back of my mind so I sent Tristram additional questions including what happens when he transfer this summer to a new assignment.

Tristram Perry, a PD-coned Foreign Service Officer on his third tour first stressed to me that US Embassy Jakarta’s Web 2.0 engagement is a team effort.  “Our Facebook and overall social media outreach efforts — YouTube, Twitter and active Blogger engagement, are a team effort, and that while I’m responsible overall for the strategy, without the talented team Jakarta has, we could not achieve the results we do.” 

He also said that  “I’m sure the page will be fine without me, as long as we continue adhere to the editorial standards and strategies we’ve developed over the past year and a half.”

I inquired about his social media background and this is what he wrote back:

“[A]lthough I did not have a social media background, I do have a background in public relations and marketing, working in the field for 7 years before joining State. I’m a recent social media junkie, but have learned to recognize the differences between how it works differently than a traditional website or newspaper is the key to success or failure.  It also helps to keep up with the latest technologies and developments, as it changes so rapidly.”

Other posts also get special mention:

“Other Embassy Social Media sites I admire are of course, the Facebook page for Surabaya, run by Andrea DeArment, and both Embassy Colombo’s and Embassy Macedonia’s Facebook efforts, and on Twitter, Embassies Ottawa and Pretoria are doing great things.” 

I was curious about knowledge management and information sharing with other posts and he said, “We’ve worked closely to develop best practices and case studies that are on the State Department’s Social Media Hub, which is available to all Posts on the State intranet.”

So if you’re responsible for social media engagement for your post and not quite sure where to start, check out US Embassy Jakarta’s materials in the Social Media Hub.

I’m sure there was something else I forgot to ask him. It will come to me in a while. Sorry, juggling too many balls right now — I sometimes forget where I park my brain. 

But thanks Tristram for answering our questions!!   

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Filed under Countries 'n Regions, Digital Diplomacy, Foreign Service, FS Blogs, FSOs, Public Diplomacy, U.S. Missions, Web2.0 Roundup

US Ambassador David Huebner Joins Blogosphere

The latest US ambassador to jump into the blogosphere is our man in New Zealand and Samoa, David Huebner.
Kia-ora … Talofa … Hello
I hope to use this space to share my thoughts and experiences in New Zealand and Samoa, as well as to convey a sense of the two Embassy’s work here.
I look forward to hearing from you via email or through the contacts page, since conversations are far more interesting than monologues.
From To blog or not to blog – that is the question.” Read full entry here.

If he were 23 today, would Descartes pronounce, “I blog, therefore I am”? If we do not blog, are we not?

Although I do admit to having certain inchoate hunches, I will not presume to offer final answers to those questions, at least not yet. In the meantime, it couldn’t hurt to share thoughts and experiences from time to time, so I will forge ahead.

Of course, my intention had been to start sharing thoughts and experiences from the day that I was sworn in (December 4, 2009), but technical and capacity challenges held things up a bit. There may also have been a good bit of pure procrastination, but self-interest often clouds self-reflection, so I can’t really confirm or deny that point credibly.

In any event, we are now ready go, and I hope that some of what follows will inform, inspire, challenge, motivate, or merely amuse you. That’s my goal, and I think it is a pretty good one. Let’s see how it turns out.

Photo from Ambassador Huebner’s blog

From Flashback: The Swearing-in. With a sweet and charming photo of the proud mothers.  Read the full post here:

The Vice President, a fellow coal-cracker from Northeastern Pennsylvania, made the event particularly memorable with his quick wit, generosity of spirit, and kind words. He is a prince of a man with a sharp intellect and an electric presence. He certainly charmed my Mother, a life-long Republican and no-nonsense skeptic of all things political.

 “Duane, Dora, Joe, Liz and me.”
Photo from Ambassador Huebner’s blog
In many respects it was a day for Mothers. In the aftermath of the ceremony, I received a surprisingly large number of emails and notes from around the country and from as far away as New Zealand and China about my Mother and Mother-in-Law, whose friendship, easy grace, and delight at the proceedings seemed to strike a chord in the blogosphere.
Family is clearly and naturally family, whatever its complexion and diversity. As my young but wise cousin Erin says, that’s as it should be. (You’ll have to watch the video above to catch the full reference.)
Those who attack other people’s families do not understand in the least what family is.

The US Mission in New Zealand and Samoa have the following online presence: Website: US Embassy NZ / Samoa | Twitter: Follow US Embassy NZ / Samoa | Ambo Twitter: Follow Me | LinkedIn: View my Profile | Flickr: Photos | Facebook: Become a Fan | YouTube: Watch our Videos & Subscribe | Vimeo: Watch our Videos on Vimeo.

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US Embassy Jakarta’s Facebook Fans Now 100,000+

In the preceding days/weeks prior to President Obama’s planned visit to Asia, the US Embassy Jakarta’s Facebook page raced towards the 50K fan mark, then the 100K mark.  As of 4 am EST today, its fan base currently sits at 113,679. Considering that the State Department’s main Facebook page continues to hover around 30,000 fans, US Embassy Jakarta’s active online recruitment is quite impressive.   

The presidential visit to Asia has now been postponed until June. Below is an excerpt of the statement:

[T]he President telephoned the leaders of Indonesia and Australia and told them that he must postpone his planned visits there for a later date so he can remain in Washington for this critical vote. The President expects to visit Indonesia in June.
The President greatly regrets the delay.  Our international alliances are critical to America’s security and economic progress.  But passage of health insurance reform is of paramount importance, and the President is determined to see this battle through.
To show US Embassy Jakarta’s very nimble online operation – just shortly after the President gave an interview in Washington DC on March 18, 2010 to RCTI reporter, Putra Nababan about the postponement of his trip, the video of that interview was up in US Embassy Jakarta’s Facebook page.  Click here for President Obama discussing the rescheduling of his Indonesia Trip to June 2010.
How many more fans do you think US Embassy Jakarta can recruit in the next 8-10 weeks on Facebook?  500K? A million?  Take a guess.

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Roaming Roemer: US Ambassador to India Joins Blogosphere

In my February 9 post on US Ambassadors: The Brave New World of Blogging I mentioned our US Ambassador to India, Tim Roemer as one of the three ambassadors without blogs but who still managed to run a pretty savvy media operation in their countries of assignment.

Ambassador Roemer actually started his blog, Roaming Roamer on February 5th with a photo. The next few entries were more like micro-blog entries; longer than Twitter’s 140 characters but shorter than what you would normally expect in a blog. But short or long, Ambassador Roemer has officially joined the blogosphere with Roaming Roemer. If he actually writes what he does and where he goes, I’m sure he’d have a lot of material; except that I can’t imagine where he’d get all the energy to actually write.  See his travel map here. See his pretty hectic events here.  It looks like he is also pretty busy with mission visitors including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senator John Kerry, SRAP Richard Holbrooke, FBI’s Robert Mueller, U.S. Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu and many others.
I reposted a sample of his recent posts below. I’m actually heartened that he wrote about Consular team appreciation last week. You don’t hear that often enough from chiefs of mission. COM sightings in consular sections are also considered quite rare in some places.         
February 25th, 2010

Today I was asked to participate in a country-wide Digital Video Conference with our consulates and officers working in consular operations on a Leadership Skills Workshop. I expressed my gratitude to them for all of their successful work serving as the “face” to our outreach efforts everyday in India on visas and American Citizen Services. They were concentrating on improving their technical skills and communicating with the “next generation” in this young democracy. I reflected later in the day how fortunate I am to have all the highly motivated and deeply committed staff at our embassy and in all our consulates.

February 24th, 2010
We hosted a reception at Roosevelt House for Sulabh International, an organization in Delhi that builds water efficient technology for toilets, improves sanitation and hygiene, and provides opportunities for “untouchables” to get a better education. In the Gandhiji tradition, Dr. Pathak, the founder, is working to remove the legal and social barriers to the caste system for the “scavengers”. These lower caste dalits are told from birth that they must clean toilets and human waste, and have no other choices in life. Sulabh’s guiding philosophy, like America’s, teaches that everyone is equal and gives their employees the tools to pursue other vocations and follow their dreams. This is an amazing story of hope, change, and progress.
February 18th, 2010
US Embassy India Photo
I’m cooking over a traditional chulha and can feel and taste the smoke stinging in my eyes and throat. Moving over to the new technology, the Envirofit cookstove, the steam coming off the rice is the only visible emission! There is a huge difference for health and the impact on the person doing the cooking with the green technology. I decided to purchase two cookstoves on the spot!
Check out Roaming Roemer here.  Also check out the photo gallery here; lots of interesting snaps of the ambo in leis, in different head gears, parasailing, riding a rickshaw, holding a baby, etc.  What energy!   
Of course, other ambassadors may have perfectly comparable hectic events and travels but if we cannot see them online, how are we to know about them? 
Note that US Mission India is not in the Web 2.0 fold. It is not on Flickr, Twitter, YouTube or Facebook (only the American Center and Library in New Delhi is on Facebook). And yet, it is still able to inform us what the embassy is doing and saying. I don’t know who is actually doing the updating of the embassy’s website, but he/she/they deserve a shout out for being always current, and timely. Keep it up folks!      

Oops, I stand corrected – US Embassy in India is not on Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr. It has a YouTube channel but there is no visible link from the embassy website to YouTube, so I missed that altogether.
US Consulate General Chennai carries the Ambassador’s blog, is on Facebook with 226 fans (thanks Jill!) and has a link to US Embassy Delhi’s YouTube channel (that’s how I found out that Embassy New Delhi is actually on YouTube).     
US Consulates General in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata all have visual links to the US Embassy’s Ambassador Roemer in Action page but otherwise have no other official social media presence.  

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Twitter Diplomacy in Russia

The US Embassy in Moscow has now posted a photo of Ashton Kutcher with Ambassador Beyrle during the US Innovation Delegation trip to Russia. Neither of them identified in this photo:

from US Embassy Moscow
From the US Embassy Moscow:  U.S. Innovation Delegation Arrives in Russia | February 17, 2010
A combined public private delegation of leaders of major American technology and social media companies has arrived in Russia and will be here through February 23.  The purpose of their trip is to bring together these leaders with representatives of the Russian government, universities, private companies, and non-governmental organizations.  They will discuss how social media and other innovative technologies can be used to strengthen and broaden ties between the United States and Russia, and how these technologies can be used to develop knowledge-based societies and economies in both our countries.  This trip is part of the broad dialogue launched by the Bilateral Presidential Commission created by Presidents Obama and Medvedev in July 2009.

The delegation is being led by Jared Cohen from the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning staff and Howard Solomon of the National Security Council.  White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra will also participate. They are joined by leaders of major American technology and social media companies, including EBay, Twitter, Cisco Systems, Howcast, EDventure, Social Gaming Network, Mozilla, Katalyst non-government organization, and the New York Academy of Sciences.

The delegation will be travelling to Moscow and Novosibirsk.

The delegation is also on Twitter:
He may be unnamed in that embassy photo but the most popular member of the delegation and the one with the most Twitter followers is no other than Ashton Kutcher aka aplusk in twitterworld. At the time of this writing, aplusk has 4,569,942 followers. That makes him the most followed user on Twitter and he, of course, tweeted about the trip:
To join us live in the room hashtag #rustechdel we are talking transperency
How can the Russian government use technology to create transperency in practices #rustechdel 7:29 AM Feb 22nd via Twitterrific
Hanging with a room of Russian startups. Any advise for them #rustechdel
Meeting with Russian NGOs about human trafficking and exploitation of children. #rustechdel
Reactions from tweetworld:
ImSoNotinDC @aplusk Or transparency. We’re giving so much away nowadays, don’t let the Russians beat us in spelling, too. #rustechdel #snarkiness
jaredcohen Headed to airport after #RusTechDel Successful trip w/21 deliverables in education, anti-trafficking, health, anti-corruption, e-gov
nvnino RT @vlad_chernyshov @iponomarev NYTimes just didn’t understand the purpose of #rustechdel. It’s a pity.
holly_hole RT @pro4pro: Ashton Kutcher’s (@aplusk) cup from Starbucks. Starting price 100$. Money will go for russian innovations:) #rustechdel about 17 hours ago from web
nickwilsdon Ashton Kutcher @aplusk follower count on Feb 10 was 4,505,387, so he picked up around 65k followers on the #rustechdel trip
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