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The attacks on the US in Egypt and Libya -- and Mitt Romney's unfortunate response to them -- are an object lesson in how not to use social media

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Foreign Policy magazine has a great breakdown of what led to Schwartz’s Twitter fiasco, which in turn led to what could be an unfortunate turning point for the Republicans in this campaign.

According to FP, Schwartz took it upon himself to tweet out responses to the video, despite the fact that the State Department urged him not to, and continued to so do well into the morning.

Per FP’s anonymous source inside State:

"People at the highest levels both at the State Department and at the White House were not happy with the way the statement went down. There was a lot of anger both about the process and the content," the official said. "Frankly, people here did not understand it. The statement was just tone deaf. It didn't provide adequate balance. We thought the references to the 9/11 attacks were inappropriate, and we strongly advised against the kind of language that talked about ‘continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.'"

It could be that the real story is different, that the State Department is spinning as fast as it can and decided to throw Schwartz under the bus. In any case, though, today’s lesson in social media best practices remains the same: Be. Careful. What. You. Tweet.

If your bosses tell you not to say it, it’s probably a good idea to listen to them. If you can’t really say it in 140 characters, maybe you shouldn’t try to. The ramifications can be quite vast and unexpected.

You can’t do much about what other people will do or say on YouTube. The only response is to use other social media – really, as many types of social media as you can muster, along with traditional media -- to get your message out. You certainly can’t rely on one, especially one with such limited bandwidth.

And then all you can do is batten down the hatches, hoping the doors will hold and sanity will eventually return.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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