Smart Diplomacy in Action: US Ambassador to Libya Abandons Twitter After Tweeting False Bombing Casualty Info
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah K. Jones retired from Twitter on Monday after tweeting out false information on civilian casualties of a bombing raid by military forces of the internationally recognized Libyan government:
Her tweet was picked up by Western media as the primary source for the information. See this Reuters article:
Eight civilians were killed in an air strike near Tripoli on Monday, the U.S. ambassador said, as Libya's internationally recognized government pressed on with an assault to recapture the capital it abandoned to a rival faction last year ...
"Terrible news today from Tarhouna where eight innocent displaced Tawergha killed in air strikes," U.S. Ambassador Deborah Jones said in a tweet, referring to members of a minority group, thousands of whom were displaced after Gaddafi fell.
"This violence serves no one's interests," said Jones, who is based outside Libya since most diplomats were evacuated from Tripoli last year.
It turned out that the information was based on rumors and conflicting information from both sides:
The eastern chief of army staff said in a statement its planes had hit a Libya Dawn barracks, not a Tawergha camp, demanding an apology from Jones.
But Mohamed al-Tarhouni, spokesman of the town's municipality, said nobody had been killed in the strike which he said had hit an empty farm near a camp of displaced Tawergha.
Jones and Louai El-Ghawi, an eastern lawmaker, said there were reports that several family members of a colonel opposed to Libya Dawn had been killed in Tarhouna in an apparent revenge attack, but details were unclear. The eastern chief of staff said Dawn supporters had killed eight members of the family.
A freelance reporter on the scene found nothing describing the info that Jones had tweeted out:
The Libyan Army condemned Jones' statement:
Libyan Twitter users then began attacking the ambassador for floating false information:
The back-tracking then began in earnest:
But the damage had been done, and she announced her departure from Twitter:
Thus, America is even getting run off of Twitter.
Smart diplomacy in action. I blame that YouTube video.