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More Twitter Diplomacy, via StartUpArabiaThe State Department yesterday announced that it had sent a nine-member delegation of senior representatives from major technology companies- including Google, AT&T, Twitter and Automattic/Wordpress- to Iraq to (quoting CNN), "provide conceptual input as well as ideas on how new technologies can be used to build local capacity, foster greater transparency and accountability, build upon anti-corruption efforts, promote critical thinking in the classroom, scale-up civil society, and further empower local entities and individuals by providing the tools for network building."

Back in January we made a couple of posts about State's use of Twitter. Scott was critical of then-Under Secretary of State Colleen Graffey's discussing buying a Mac while the Israeli incursion into Gaza was at its peak. One of the other criticisms of Graffey's twittering was that she was only going to reach those privileged enough to have regular internet access, and that this wasn't likely to include a huge number of, for example, Iraqis. Monday's announcement appears to mark a move from State simply twittering, to State helping others twitter. I'd like to think that the State Department has realised that its new blog and video updates are missing a huge swathe of their intended audience due to a lack of internet access. But this seems to me more like an attempt to put US companies at the forefront of any internet goldrush in the Arabic-speaking world.