22:36 GMT +323 September 2018
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    South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley testifies during her confirmation hearing for US Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) before the Senate Foreign Relations committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC

    Digital Diplomacy: Is Nikki Haley's Twitter Account Violating Protocol?

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    US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley does not have a professional State Department Twitter handle and uses her personal account both for making official statements and posting pictures of her dog, which appears to violate the department’s rules, POLITICO reported.

    According to the State Department’s social media guidelines, diplomats and employees such as Haley, “whose positons make it appropriate for them to engage in official communications on behalf of the Department over social media must not use personal social media accounts to do so. They must use official social media accounts, created and owned by the Department.”

    READ MORE: Haley Says She Won't Defend Trump's 'Communication Style', Sparking Twitter Feud

    Haley, however, doesn’t have an official handle that can also be used by her successor, and doesn’t hesitate to use her personal account, created in 2009, to tweet her plans to speak at a conference, or denounce Russia’s actions in Syria, or advise her followers on music, and even discuss the Grammys or the royal wedding.

    POLITICO managed to find a host of tweets allegedly contradicting the State Department’s rules, stipulating that diplomats can post official content on a personal account as long as “it is clear… that it is not used to communicate on behalf of the department.” Haley has frequently turned to the power of social media in public diplomacy to promote the agenda:

    According to POLITICO, she has already been rebuked for her use of the social media platform, as the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative agency, warned her that she had breached the Hatch Act, which restricts campaign activity by members of the executive branch (except for the president and the vice president) last June when she retweeted President Trump’s endorsement of a South Carolina congressional candidate.

    Later, in a September letter, the special counsel’s office stated that “because Ambassador Haley’s personal Twitter account included so much indicia of her official role as Ambassador and was even linked to the United States Mission to the United Nations website, it gave the impression that she was acting in her official capacity when she used this account to retweet President Trump’s message.”

    After the warning, Haley removed her title from her Twitter bio.

    When POLITICO asked an unnamed spokesman for her office why the ambassador did not create a separate official account, he said it was irrelevant because of her existing account @USUN, which represented the entire mission and added that Haley cooperated with the State Department to make sure she abided by social media rules.

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