Citizen Tweeters @Sweden
Sweden lets citizens tweet through its official Twitter account.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: June 12th, 2012
weden really believes in giving its citizens a voice. So much so that it is letting ordinary Swedes control its official @Sweden Twitter account. Each week, another Swede gets to tweet for the next seven days and be the official representative of the nation in the Twitterverse.
To be chosen for the @Sweden honor, people are nominated (no one can vote for themselves), and a three-person committee selects the winners. The only prerequisites are that the people must be versed in tweeting, and able to post in English. They’re instructed to not pretend to speak for all Swedes and, obviously, not do anything criminal.
As might be expected, the subjects of the tweets have been all over the map. According to the New York Times, some tweeters have expressed views critical of the government, one tweeted pictures from his moose hunt, and a Muslim lawyer tweeted about the popularity of the name Muhammad.
And one person tweeted about his penchant for drinking coffee, hanging out with his friends, and masturbating. That person has now become known as “the masturbating Swede.”
“I wanted to show that I’m often kind of immature and often kind of stupid and so is this country, and I bet you are, too, and so are a lot of people around the world,” the “masturbating Swede” told the New York Times. “It’s much more interesting than saying things like, ‘Look at these fabulous pictures of nature.’ ”
UPDATE: After we posted this story, Sweden's latest citizen Tweeter, Sonja, tweeted something that raised a few eyebrows.
"Whats the fuzz [sic] with jews," Sonja tweeted. "You can't even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises [sic], and even if you do, you can't be sure!?"
It seems that Sonja was simply expressing ignorance about why there is anti-Semitism in the world (we assume "fuzz" was meant to be "fuss"), which, while displaying a shocking lack of historical knowledge, is perhaps understandable given that Sweden's Jewish population is only slightly over one percent.
Still, Sonja has faced a torrent of criticism, and her responses only highlight her naiveté and her lack of world knowledge.
"Im [sic] sorry if some of you find the question offensive. This was not my purpose. I just don't get why some people hates [sic] jews so much," she wrote.
It's actually a fairly poignant question, and one for which there is no simple answer. But perhaps Twitter was not the place to ask it, especially if English is not your native tongue, and especially if your profile picture looks like Sonja's.
But that's true democracy. If you give people a voice, you can't be surprised when they occasionally say some really stupid things.