The Foreign Service blog community lit up today with the State Department’s brainless judgement and censorship in action.
A community manager or two running the blog roll at careers.state.gov (managed by the Bureau of Human Resources) has removed the blog of EFM, Jen Dinoia from the list (see The Dinoia Family).
Brainless. Not only is Jen a spouse of a Diplomatic Security Officer whose family have been in the Service for 14 years, she was diagnosed with breast cancer while her FS husband was in Iraq. She blogged about about her brave fight in her blog, about having a spouse on an unaccompanied tour, and more. Oh, and her husband will soon be on his second unaccompanied tour.
When she asked about the removal of her blog from the list, she received the following response:
Hopefully, you can understand that some topics covered in your blog are very personal in nature, e.g. nipple cozies, and wouldn’t necessarily resonate with the majority of potential candidates who are interested in learning about the FS life overseas. Through our years of recruitment experience, we found that FS prospects want to learn more about the work that’s conducted, the people and cultures with whom they will interact, the travel experiences, and the individual stories our employees* have to share.
Hopefully, you can see the bureaucratic idiocy on display here. These
community managers excuse me, recruitment experts, do not/not know what massive beehive they’ve wandered into.
So the State Department folks do no like talk about nipples on the FS blogs it puts in its blog roll. Dammit, who’s giving these folks guidance over there?
If there’s one blog that shows how the State Department has taken care of an employee and his family in a medical emergency, or how the FS community rallied and supported one of its own during one of the most challenging times in a woman’s life, or how a diplomatic spouse juggles life when the employee is off on a year-long assignment in a war zone, that’s Jen’s blog. So if these recruitment experts with blog roll pruning scissors actually got beyond the N-word, they wouldn’t have ditched this excellent recruitment material. But they did, which calls into question their expertness.
Dear State Department, if you need to ditch a blog due to offending words like “nipple”, don’t do it the day after you get an ACLU letter talking about first amendment rights.
Because there’s that item about the ACLU writing a letter to the State Department on behalf of FSO, Peter Van Buren, who posted it in the Secretary’s Sounding Board, where it was reportedly flagged with the following:
The State Department has classified the ACLU letter and issued a warning to its busy workers in the hive not to read the letter: “federal employees and contractors who believe they may have inadvertently accessed or downloaded this letter without prior authorization, should contact their information security offices for assistance.”
Here’s what the moderator said:
“The Sounding Board wasn’t designed to handle individually-specific cases, or cases that are under formal review of any sort. Our publishing guidelines state this, but more honestly, there are issues that are much bigger than our two moderators can handle. And yours is one of them. We have to let the procedures set in place, that you’re exercising, run their course.”
This is what happens when you take that slippery slope, it’s like a humongous snowball with no brakes implanted. If nipples and the ACLU are no good, what’s next, toucans?
One of our blog readers sent this piece with her gotcha quiz:
I see little evidence that this is anything but a cultural difference anchored time. Whereas Defense moved forward, State has remained in the past. Look at the advanced relationship Defense has with social media and even empowerment of its people to engage directly. Compare that with State’s increasing attempts to centralize control of social media and overall public engagement.
In Defense, authorities and lanes are clear. In State, they are fuzzy and mostly dependent on personalities and relationships. Which agency is more effective?
Which agency is more effective?
Why, that’s a no brainer, of course. The one that scrubbed nipples and damn nosy ACLU with its eye-opening letter to bureaucrats from the Internets!
Updated @14:38 corrections on apparent grammar, spelling bo-bos added.
Updated @22:27 with additional material
Not certain what the reaction of your readers (or yours) will be to this, but the washington post story on this just hit the Drudge Report. So, there’s gonna be even more awareness of this situation.
Thanks for the heads up, Mark!
Jen, I am sorry that you have to be at the receiving end of such idiocy. Keep blogging, there’s nothing lacking about you or your blog. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Hugs, D
Wait, what on earth is classifiable in the ACLU letter? What information in there could possibly do harm to the National Security of the United States?
Hey, if you can have the Privacy Act protecting the FS promotion stats, you can designate anything and everything under the sun not fit for consumption within the bureaucracy. Should help in the proper functioning of the Service.