… My heart’s in Accra Ethan Zuckerman’s online home, since 2003

March 18, 2009

Lova Rakatomalala on Twitter and Madagascar. And the US State Department.

Filed under: Africa,Media — Ethan @ 10:03 pm

Lova Rakotamalala has been spending a lot of his time explaining the crisis in Madagascar to the global media.

In a recent blog post, he explains some of the factors that’s led him to the unusual position of becoming citizen spokesman for his homeland. His work summarizing posts on Twitter is very similar to what he’s done so well for Global Voices – finding citizen voices, and putting them into context.

Lova shares his most memorable moment from the crisis, an exchange with @dipnote, the Twitter handle for the US Department of State. I hadn’t realizd that the State Department knew what twitter was, never mind that they knew how to use it well. Here’s a stretch of tweets from @dipnote from midday yesterday:

# RT @usembassylondon: Reports that President Ravalomanana of Madagascar is seeking sanctuary at the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo are FALSE.12:30 PM Mar 17th from TweetDeck

# U.S. continues to call upon all parties to exercise restraint following the resignation of President Ravalomanana of #Madagascar.12:07 PM Mar 17th from TweetDeck

# @lrakoto @ paulissima @tandriamirado @xcazin President Ravalomanana has made no such request and is not in the U.S. Embassy.12:01 PM Mar 17th from TweetDeck

# President Ravalomanana has made no such request and is not in the US Embassy.11:46 AM Mar 17th from TweetDeck

# We are aware of media reports that President Ravalomanana of Madagascar is seeking sanctuary at the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo.11:46 AM Mar 17th from TweetDeck

Okay, so I’m impressed. Not only does the State Department follow Twitter, they’re using it to get out in front of rumors that were being reported on major news networks, including France24.

I’m impressed by Lova as well. It’s not easy to report on events tearing your country apart, and to weigh the accuracy of these reports in real time. Twitter has made this process faster, and therefore harder, for those of us trying to help others navigate citizen media. Glad to see Lova getting the attention he deserves.

4 Comments

  1. … and there will hopefully be even more malagasy citizen particpation in the future! I’m looking forward to that:

    Improving political participation via the Internet
    http://www.madagaskar-vision.de/communique.html

    Comment by Harald Kreutzer — March 19, 2009 @ 9:46 am

  2. I’ve been following Lova’s work for a long time, I agree, he’s doing a great job. I recently started following your blog as well; the community of Madagascar followers is so interesting, we’re all connected! Thanks for your contributions. I’ve gotten some great links from your site.

    Comment by Sara LeHoullier — March 19, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

  3. […] information in response to rumors and thus counter-act misinformation as soon as it spreads. If the US Embassy can do this in Madagascar using Twitter, why can’t humanitarian organizations do the […]

    Pingback by Ushahidi: From Croudsourcing to Crowdfeeding « iRevolution — March 27, 2009 @ 12:21 am

  4. […] information in response to rumors and thus counter-act misinformation as soon as it spreads. If the US Embassy can do this in Madagascar using Twitter, why can’t humanitarian organizations do the equivalent? [my […]

    Pingback by The Antisocial Humanitarian deals with rumours at humanitarian.info — April 6, 2009 @ 5:25 am

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