The US State Department on Friday launched a new high-tech form of outreach to the international community when it took questions on foreign policy from Twitter followers in different languages.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland answered a number of tweets from followers in English as well as those arriving in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.
Nuland answered on camera in a broadcast that was carried several hours later on YouTube.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “is encouraging all of us to use new technology and innovation as a key part of our foreign policy agenda,” Nuland said in her presentation of a format to be used every Friday in January.
“We’re adopting new approaches to meet diplomatic and development challenges around the globe,” she said in a room where she briefs journalists daily.
“Part of this effort is making sure that we are using full use of digital networks and social technologies to more quickly and directly engage audiences around the world,” Nuland added.
A question on the State Department’s Farsi feed, @USAdarFarsi, said: “Iran is about to cut off the Internet. What’s the status?… And what is the US procedure on the new threat to the US Navy?”
She took the opportunity to lash out at Iran’s crackdown on freedom of expression.
“I’d like to say that Iran is more adept at blocking the free flow of information to its citizens than almost any other country in the world,” Nuland said.
“And we are deeply concerned about new reports of measures that Iran is taking to curtail Internet freedom, including draconian surveillance techniques and the creation of a national Internet, which would essentially cut Iran’s citizens off from the global Internet conversation,” she said.
Other questions arrived on the State Department’s Arabic, Chinese and English feeds.