The Sunlight Foundation found a wide variety in the focus and content of the different embassies and in the range of formality. Many ambassadors also have their own Twitter feeds. The watchdog organization also pointed to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo as one of the most interactive Twitter feeds, and found that not all Twitter accounts are currently linked by their respective official Embassy websites, highlighting the decentralization effect of social media that could also be a result of slow-moving website design. Many U.S. politicians have also been slow to link their verified Twitter accounts to their government websites.
The survey also noted that many embassies tweet in the language of their country. The State Department last year began regularly translating content pushed to embassies into six major languages, including Arabic, French, Spanish, Russian and Chinese.
The transparency watchdog also compared its findings to rankings for the relative level of freedom in other countries done by Freedom House. Twitter has often been cited as a mark of freedom and has been used as a tool by rebel citizens under oppressive regimes to help organize an uprising. The Obama administration indicated its intention to take digital suppression seriously last month with an executive order authorizing sanctions and visa bans against those abusing human rights through information technology such as cellphone tracking or Internet monitoring.
The Sunlight Foundation found what analysts described as a “weak correlation” between embassies that tweet and the level of freedom ranked by Freedom House.
The State Department maintains a list for most of the U.S. Embassies on Twitter here.