The Swedish tourism board has just discovered Twitter’s greatest paradox: 140 characters is just long enough to say something stupid, but not nearly long enough to explain yourself when you do.
It all began innocently enough. In an effort to democratize national speech, Sweden’s tourism board decided to hand over its twitter account, @sweden, to a different Swede every week. The designated citizen would have seven days to add his or her tile to the mosaic that is Swedish society.
Needless to say, it just takes one to spoil the fun.
The latest @sweden curator, 27-year-old Sonja Abrahamsson, decided that her first few hours in national spotlight were best spent saying really weird things about Jews? The Wall Street Journal‘s Liz Heron tweeted the following screenshot of Sonja’s first posts as @sweden (in chronological order from bottom to top):
As Slate.com’s Jeremy Stahl notes, ignorance more than anti-semitism seems to be the driving force here—but that hasn’t lessened the tidal wave of outraged/critical/totally-weirded-out tweeters targeting both Sonja and Sweden, generally.
Since delivering her attempt at a public apology (pictured above), Sonja has said nothing more about the controversy or her comments. Sweden’s tourism board doesn’t seem too worked up about the issue either, maintaining that it won’t censor its curators. Tommy Sollén, Social Media Manager at VisitSweden, told the Wall Street Journal, that “It’s very important for us to let everyone take a unique viewpoint…Some of [the @sweden curators] have been talking about music, some of them have been talking about food….Sonja is more focused on her own brand of humor and asking probing questions.”
A bit of advice for future @sweden curators: Leave the humor and “probing questions” to the experts: