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U.S. Ambassador To Libya Quits Twitter Over Trolling

Twitter was one of the last ways for American diplomats to communicate with civilians in wartorn Libya.

Originally posted on
Updated on

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones was confirmed in May 2013, taking up the role left vacant following the death of her predecessor, Christopher Stevens, who was killed in an attack in Benghazi, Libya the previous year.

Jones, like all Americans stationed there, was pulled out of Libya last July in the face of rising instability.

Calm has been the exception rather than the norm in Libya since the overthrow of former leader Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011 by a series of disparate militias with NATO backing.

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Earlier on Monday, Jones tweeted that airstrikes had killed several civilians. Though she did not assign blame, the head of the internationally backed government's army said that only a rival military base had been hit and demanded an apology of Jones.

Terrible news today from #Tarhouna where 8 innocent displaced #Tawergha killed in air strikes. This violence serves no one's interests.

With no U.S. presence in the country, Twitter had remained one of the few ways to reach out to Libyans. But Jones' role as a spokesperson for U.S. policy made her an outsized target for ire, both in the form of sincere criticism and outlandish trolling.

Ps sadly I have begun to block those who use vulgarity or call for harm to me or my family. Disagree with me but do so with dignity

And so on Monday, Amb. Jones decided to bid Twitter adieu.

Dear Tweeps -and not so dear Tweeps- when I opened a Twitter account last year it was to encourage a transparent dialogue with all Libyans

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Given the security situation in #Libya, Twitter was the only way to reach out and I am pleased to have developed a following of over 49k

Unfortunately, it seems there are some more focused on parsing and distorting "tweets" than reading actual statements of US policy

We shall continue to post official statements on our embassy FB account. To all those responsible & thoughtful Tweeps out there, thank you

Getting to know thoughtful, dedicated Libyans via Twitter has been an inspiration & given me great hope 4 Libya's future. I wish you well.

You can read more about the situation in Libya here.

This post has been updated to provide more detail surrounding Jones' departure from Twitter.

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at hayes.brown@buzzfeed.com.

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