U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said it was "pure coincidence" that she spoke Thursday at the San Francisco social networking site Twitter moments before Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak refused to step down - a move that enraged street activists, many of whom have been using Twitter to organize their three-week-long uprising.
While not sending a diplomatic message, Rice acknowledged "the enormous impact" social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have had on the "emergence and coalescence of these political movements. And governments are increasingly cognizant of their power."
Some governments "have chosen to try to suppress expression, and others have recognized that's futile, and some have done both," Rice said. "I think it's an extraordinary moment in the power of this technology, the power of social networking to channel and champion public sentiment."
Rice appeared before Twitter employees for an hour to answer questions tweeted from some of Twitter's 200 million registered users - 60 percent of whom are international. Rice praised Twitter employees, saying that "your work is having real impact."
But unbridled praise for recent "Facebook revolutions" overlooks how governments have used social media as tools of repression, too. Governments in Syria and elsewhere have used social media sites to compile information about dissidents.
In the United States, federal investigators in Virginia have asked the courts to order Twitter to turn over information it is seeking in connection with activists associated with the WikiLeaks release of confidential State Department and military files. A hearing is set for Tuesday.
"I think there is too much focus on (social networks) as a driver of the protests," said Evgeny Morozov, a visiting scholar at Stanford University and author of the book, "Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom."
"Maybe because we don't know who is driving the protests, we focus on the tools," he said.
Rice acknowledged that social media have "made the already complex business of diplomacy even more multidimensional. While there are increased challenges," she said "there are equal or more opportunities."
"It gives those of us who are diplomats and communicators many more avenues to get the message out. And it gives us many more avenues from which to receive input and insight from people around the world," Rice said.
"We are much more cognizant of and sensitive to not just what we hear from government and officials but what we hear from civil society and (nongovernmental organizations) and bloggers, and people on the street."
Rice didn't stray from the Obama administration's diplomatic line Thursday. She told reporters after her appearance in San Francisco that the United States would like to see "an orderly and genuine transition to lasting democracy that truly and fully reflects the will of the Egyptian people."
"That process needs to proceed and be irreversible," Rice told Twitter employees.
Robert Orr needs a Chinese Visa to enter UN's DC2 building
Rio+20: GreenPeace Statement
Greenpeace International Executive Director has released a statement on his views of Rio+20. "The future we want has gotten a little further away today. Rio+20 has turned into an epic failure, It has failed on equity, failed on ecology and failed on economy" were Kumi Naidoo frank comments after the text for the outcome document was adopted. Please click here for the full statement.
UN Policy Coordination on the Road
DESA's Telecommuting Assistant Secretary General
Sha Zukang's behavior not appropriate...
Sha's behavior was not appropriate as a senior advisor. And he also knows that his behavior has embarrassed most of the [other] senior advisors at that time.
Mr. Chance (buy this book now)
Click on the picture and purchase this book now. It's already a best seller. It shows the coward Ban Ki Moon and his Korean team in action.
Chinese Social Affairs Department
"UN needs complete leadership overhaul"
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, who asked Ashdown to carry out the report, said the government would give its response in about six weeks.
Czech President Klaus
"...this is the time for international organizations, including the United Nations, to reduce their expenditures, make their administrations thinner, and leave the solutions to the governments of member states"
Sha Zukang Disrespectful of UN Rules
UN staff rules require employees to uphold and respect the principles set out in the Charter, including faith in fundamental human rights. They prohibit U.N. employees from accepting instructions from any government or from any other source external to the organization. UN staff should avoid any action and, in particular, any kind of public pronouncement that may adversely reflect on their status, or on the integrity, independence and impartiality that are required by that status.
Barack Obama on UN Reform
Obtain Refund of Funds Owed to the U.S. by the U.N.
CLICK ON VOTE - to save approximate $180 million in one time savings
Get ready U.N. !!
Let's raise our voices
The following months are critical. Changing DESA is in your hand. Speak up now and share our message with all colleagues.
NyTimes disavows Ban Ki Moon
"The United States, meanwhile, should think hard about whether it wants to support Mr. Ban’s re-election" NyTimes Editorial - Nov 03, 2010
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UN at 65
State Department Spokesperson P.J. Crowley
"Sha Zukang seems to be cranky at lots of folks. It will not affect our relations with China."
UN STAFF RESOLUTION ON BAN KI MOON
If SG Ban Ki-moon fails to take immediate steps towards real reform to address these urgent systemic issues, Staff Union will consider a vote of NO-CONFIDENCE
Backstabbing for Beginners
Backstabbing for Beginners is at once the darkly comic tale of one man's political coming of age and a stinging indictment of the hypocrisy that prevailed at the heart of the world's most idealistic institution.
Hacked Emails Show Blatant Climate Change Fraud
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What will this successful Chinese Diplomat do different?