'Not trying to neg’: State Dept. blasted for travel advice to 'ugly' people

A view of the US Department of State © Paul J. Richards
The Department of State has apologized after making an offbeat tweet where it seemed to warn Americans to avoid getting scammed by not overestimating their own attractiveness when traveling abroad.

On Wednesday, the agency’s Bureau of Consular Affairs took to Twitter to offer Americans practical travel advice when traveling overseas, using the hashtag #springbreakingbadly.

Most of the advice using the hashtag was innocuous, but things took a personal turn in one tweet that has since been deleted.

“Not a ‘10’ in the US?” the department asked, referring to a rating of physical attractiveness. “Then not a 10 overseas. Beware of being lured into buying expensive drinks or worse—being robbed.”

The tweet was meant to be a clever way to warn people about scams that rely on flattery, but many criticized the tweet for being condescending or even sexist.

The State Department, however, rebuked these claims, pointing out that it didn’t mention gender and that it’s wasn’t trying “neg” anyone, referring the tactic of using backhanded compliment when flirting.

Others on Twitter found humor in the tweet, and criticized those outraged at it for being too sensitive.

A parody account was created, with tweets dedicated to lampooning the agency’s misfire.

Hours after making its ill-fated tweet, the agency issued an apology, adding that it was only trying to issue useful advice.