The State Department is tightening its embrace of Twitter and other social media as crises grip the Middle East and Haiti, with officials finding new voice, cheek and influence in the era of digital diplomacy.
Even as it struggles to contain damage caused by WikiLeaks' release of classified internal documents, the department is reaching out across the Internet. It's bypassing traditional news outlets to connect directly and in real time with overseas audiences in the throes of unrest and upheaval.
In recent days, department spokesman P.J. Crowley has tweeted to knock down rumors, appeal for calm and urge reforms in Haiti, Tunisia and Lebanon. He's also posted sharp responses to WikiLeaks and promoted the visit of the Chinese president to Chicago by comparing it to a National Football League playoff game.