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State Dept.’s #AskJen Twitter campaign goes awry

State Dept.’s #AskJen Twitter campaign goes awry
The US State Department asked social media users to supply spokesperson Jen Psaki with questions over Twitter on Thursday, but the office’s attempt at engaging its audience predictably became plagued with insults and attacks.

“Live now! #AskJen your foreign policy questions in a Twitter Q&A on @StateDeptSpox,” the official State Dept. Twitter account announced early Thursday.

Live now! #AskJen your foreign policy questions in a Twitter Q&A on @StateDeptSpox. pic.twitter.com/4Jb6cYfSHZ

— Department of State (@StateDept) April 21, 2014

Although the State Dept.’s “Ask Jen” campaign attracted a fair share of legitimate questions — the likes of which the spokesperson indeed answered by the handful as of early afternoon — the online Q-and-A also spawned a significant amount of remarks far from fit for a stately discussion.

Shortly after the session got underway, one critic raised concerns over the screen name associated with the State Dept. spokesperson’s account:

Who came up with the idea of twitter handle @statedeptspox? The name looks like "The syphilis of the state dept" #AskJen

— dbetzel (@dbetzel) September 18, 2014

Just as quickly, questions came in that addressed foreign policy issues, but were presumably far from what Psaki planned on answering.

“Who threatened the Foley family with prosecution? Was it Rice? I bet it was Rice,” one Twitter user asked in reference to the tragedy surrounding the first of three western hostages to be beheaded recently by Islamic State militants, likely implying that National Security Advisor Susan Rice was central to reports suggesting James Foley’s family was warned of facing criminal charges if they negotiated with the group.

“Why is @BarackObama going to aid the #FSA who sold #JamesFoley to #ISIS and are known collaborators of theirs @statedeptspox?” another asked of the subject.

@statedeptspox I'll wait. Who threatened the Foley family with prosecution? Was it Rice? I bet it was Rice. #askjen

— Random Pinko (@anon_pinko) September 18, 2014

Why is @BarackObama going to aid the #FSA who sold #JamesFoley to #ISIS and are known collaborators of theirs @statedeptspox? #Syria#AskJen

— TJ Chilly Willy (@streetscoop) September 18, 2014

.@statedeptspox Were you in the room when .@HillaryClinton's janitors were scrubbing #Benghazi documents? #askjen

— Reese Delaney (@ReeseDelaney) September 18, 2014

“Were you in the room when .@HillaryClinton's janitors were scrubbing #Benghazi documents?wondered another, this time asking about the former secretary of state’s knowledge of the September 11, 2012 attack at America’s Libyan consulate.

“Does @marieharf show up drunk everyday [sic] or is she just retarded?”inquired another of the deputy State Dept. spokesperson.

#askJen Does @marieharf show up drunk everyday or is she just retarded?

— The 57th State ℅EF™ (@EF517_V2) September 18, 2014

Addition queries included “What part of arming Syrian jihadists makes you think it is a good idea?” “Which has more holes: our southern border, Benghazi coverups or a presidential golf outing?” and, of course, “Hey Psaki, can I get them digits, baby?”

@statedeptspox What part of arming Syrian jihadists makes you think it is a good idea? Is it the "Syrian" part or the "rebels" part? #AskJen

— Mark McClain (@MarkMMcClain) September 18, 2014

Which has more holes: our southern border, Benghazi coverups or a presidential golf outing? @statedeptspox#AskJen

— Brian (@bhewing1) September 18, 2014

Hey Psaki, can I get them digits, baby? #askJen

— Tyler Durden (@rottencoreblog) September 18, 2014

But while the questions came in by the dozens, Psaki only answered 14 — concentrating primarily on topics concerning the upcoming United Nations General Assembly — before ending the session to attend a meeting pertaining to next week’s UNGA.

“Thanks for your great questions,” she tweeted. “[I] have to run to UNGA meeting. #UNGA”

Meanwhile, deputy State Dept. spokesperson Marie Harf engaged over social media on her own after Mark Dubowitz, the executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, reportedly told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer during a Thursday afternoon broadcast that the United States is negotiating a nuclear strategy with Iran — a claim that Harf called “not based on anything actually happening.”

“Marie, you should be aware that many members of Congress share my concerns,” Dubowitz responded over Twitter.

.@marieharf@wolfblitzer Marie, you should be aware that many members of Congress share my concerns.

— Mark Dubowitz (@dubo1968) September 18, 2014

Thursday’s social media blitz is the latest foray from a legitimate office to answer questions from the internet, but far from the first time that such a campaign has come under attack. RT has reported previously in recent months that similar attempts to drum up Twitter traffic undertaken by the New York Police Department and Israel’s ambassador to the US were met with similar success — or lack thereof.

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