I've been blogging about the story of our US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, who got into a confrontation with the state-controlled NTV who has been dogging him like the KGB. McFaul is very active on Twitter (see @mcfaul) -- I've sparred with him there as many others have.
And there was a funny interchange at the State Department noon press briefing today that lets us know the avatar has arrived (even if the word is expelled) -- and is so very Second Life:
MR. TONER: Well, we’ve raised our concerns. There’s been a number of incidents since his arrival there that have caused us to have some concerns about his security and safety. So as we would in any – following normal protocol, we’ve raised that with the Government of Russia.
QUESTION: Do you have any concerns at all about just – I mean in general about the tweets that he’s been sending out?
MR. TONER: No. I think I said yesterday that we have full confidence in our chiefs of mission to use Twitter as a way to communicate to a number of followers, whether they be in Russia – in Mike McFaul’s case, but – or outside. And I did note, having looked at his Twitter account – we had an exchange yesterday – but there’s quite a few of his followers who respond in Cyrillic, so he does have some measure. I don’t have any way to measure that, but you questioned --
QUESTION: One of his followers appears to be someone with the name the – at least the Twitter handle Prostitutkamila. Do you have any – (laughter) – whose avitar is crossed legs. Do you have any – I mean, he is going back and forth with Prostitutkamila about this situation yesterday. Do you have any concerns or problems with that? Is that appropriate for – I mean, God knows who this person actually is, but --
MR. TONER: Right. Exactly, Matt. You well know, as I do, even though we’re not of the – this generation that uses Twitter – well, maybe you do, maybe you are, I don’t mean to age you – but that avitars come in all shapes and forms.
QUESTION: Well, I know, but, I mean, here he’s having a discussion saying that he was accosted by Cossacks at this event where these journalists – there were not just journalists there, there were men in military uniform, and I just – do you think that ambassadors should be routinely engaged in Twitter conversations with people who identify themselves as prostitutes?
MR. TONER: Again, he’s engaged with his followers. I’m not going to get – regulate or talk about from this podium who within his followers he should be talking to. Twitter – his tweets go out to a broad audience.
QUESTION: Did your concerns with – over his security and safety predate his Twitter activities yesterday?
MR. TONER: Yeah. I mean, I would say that. There’s been a number of incidents. I’m not going to go into them in detail but – because they do pertain to his security, but we’ve raised this.