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Sweden turns its national Twitter feed over to the people, with odd results

A tweeter in action, sure, but should he represent an entire nation?

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For anyone who doubts the potential perils of social media, see the example of @Sweden.

The country's official Twitter account, which is given to a different citizen each week to tweet about subjects (however dubious) of his or her choice, gained worldwide notoriety this week after being featured in a front page story in the New York Times.

But instead of accolades, the experiment is now raising questions about whether it's a good idea to throw caution to the wind in the social media landscape.

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In case you've been residing under the proverbial rock, you will have heard that the latest curator of the @Sweden feed, a self-described 27-year old "womanlike human being," wasted no time in testing the limits by making questionable remarks about Jewish people.

For instance, "Once I asked a co-worker what a jew is. He was 'part jew', whatever that means. He's like 'uuuuh... jews are.. uh.. well educated..?"

The feed, written by Sonja Abrahamsson, also muses about the fact you can't tell someone is Jewish just by looking at them and how they were made to sew stars into their clothing in Germany.

This morning, Ms. Abrahamsson is still busy typing, her thoughts ranging from the name of the band System of a Down and the quality of her daughter's hand-drawn portrait of her brother.

Online responses to her postings have been varied. Some find the comments offensive and an example of why this type of avant-garde Twitter experiment is a bad idea; others defend her right to ask questions or probe sensitive subjects.

Officials with the initiative are so far standing by their controversial representative, with social media manager of VisitSweden Tommy Sollen telling the Wall Street Journal that Swedes generally reject censorship in any form.

Will they be singing the same tune by the end of the week? Only time, and the latest postings on the @Sweden feed, will tell.

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Is the @Sweden initiative a good idea? Should Canada have a similar Twitter feed?

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More


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