It seems to be a contest: who can get into the most trouble quickest via social media? Neither ambassadors nor reporters are immune to scolding and even firing for expressing opinions not held - or at least not spoken aloud at that moment - by their superiors.
Earlier this week, our beloved Diplopundit devoted an entry to patient dissection of the new 5 FAM 790. Madam strongly recommends that any State employee or dependent who is even thinking of blogging or tweeting study this very carefully. Especially the part about how "the Department encourages the responsible use of social media consistent with current laws, policies and guidance that govern information and information technology." And how "Department organizations will not arbitrarily ban access to or the use of social media" despite the dozens of anecdotes that appear to contradict these very statements, from new A-100-ites to veteran spouses.
As Madam often insists, the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data.' Still, the treatment of the spouse who was ordered to take down her personal blog in which she wrote that she did not love Oakwood still seems pretty harsh, as does the fate of the new FSO who was ordered to delete the personal blog in which she dared to admit to finding A-100 tiring. Not to mention the blanket instruction to A-100-ites (officially denied but subject to dozens of first-hand confirmations) to not blog, period, lest they in their newbie ignorance make any statement that could in any way be construed as criticism of the Service or any of its processes.
Consider, on the other hand, the admission by Margot Carrington, the highly skilled and otherwise well-qualified principal officer in Fukuoka, that "Despite having worked six years at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, I initially encountered a bit of culture shock when I arrived in Fukuoka. First, I had to contend with our local dialect of Hakataben and not knowing what yokinshatta (welcome) meant!" Madam can't help but wonder if such a public-media admission of ill-preparedness by a lower ranking FSO might have been so quickly glossed over in favor of breathless admiration for her kabuki efforts - which, fortunately, the local population appeared to find flattering rather than offensive. But then, this admission by the ranking US diplomat at post was published via Embassy Tokyo's DCM's official blog. So it's all good.