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Posted at 2:58 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011

State Department launches Arabic Twitter feed

By Ed O'Keefe and James Buck

The State Department -- already pretty good at the social media thing -- is now using Twitter to transmit its thoughts to the Arab world in ... Arabic.

Foggy Bottom is using @USAbilAraby, which in English means "USA in Arabic." The feed's description says it's the "Department of State Arabic Media Hub."

"The US foreign ministry has recognized the historic role of social media in the Arab world and we want to be part of your conversations," says one of the first tweets. (James is the Arabic speaker, Ed is not.)

The account had about 300 followers by midafternoon.

Notably, the State Department appears to be using Modern Standard Arabic, a formal, high-register Arabic that is the most common form of expression for media outlets, and public and religious officials. Younger Arab social media users are breaking away from the strict formal expression and use both Arab and Latin-alphabet dialect.

The State Department has several social media voices of its own. Lead spokesman P.J. Crowley is a frequent -- and witty -- Twitter user (@PJCrowley), who once warned Americans not to travel to North Korea by noting that the U.S. had only so many former presidents available to rescue them.

At the start of the Obama administration, the department employed two active users, Jared Cohen (@JaredCohen), who now serves as director of Google Ideas, and Alec Ross (@AlecJRoss), who remains as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's senior adviser for innovation. Both quickly became among the most followed of anyone working for the U.S. government.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe and James Buck  | February 9, 2011; 2:58 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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Comments

Intruding on NASA's mission, I see.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | February 9, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Notably, the State Department appears to be using Modern Standard Arabic, a formal, high-register Arabic that is the most common form of expression for media outlets, and public and religious officials. Younger Arab social media users are breaking away from the strict formal expression and use both Arab and Latin-alphabet dialect.
--------
Not all that "notable". Arabic itself has many dialects that differ in the extreme (vocabulary, verb structure, pronunciation) from one end of the Arab world to the other. MSA is the sensible route.

Posted by: Ali4 | February 10, 2011 7:59 AM | Report abuse

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