Social media aids diplomacy, disaster response

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US embassies used to pass important security alerts to Americans abroad through word of mouth, said Janice Jacobs, assistant secretary of State for consular affair. Embassy consular sections relayed those warnings, called "warden messages" through pre-organized phone trees or by actually knocking on doors, she said. Later, embassies began sending mass emails to Americans who had registered with them, but those emails usually reached only a handful of citizens living or traveling in those countries. Social information travels in the opposite direction too. Embassies frequently learn that an American has been arrested or injured abroad from family members or friends alerted on Twitter or Facebook, long before word reaches them through official government-to-government channels, she said.


Social media aids diplomacy, disaster response