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Home » Twitter Apology and Deletion of Tweet Causing Mockery

Twitter Apology and Deletion of Tweet Causing Mockery

28 January 2023, Saturday
The Associated Press, the largest news agency in the United States, has issued an apology in the wake of ridicule they received over their advice to writers against referring to "the French".

The AP Stylebook Twitter account suggested that journalists should refrain from using "the" when referring to phrases such as "the disabled, the poor and the French", deeming it to be dehumanising.

The French embassy caused a stir by temporarily re-branding itself as the "Embassy of Frenchness in the United States". Pascal Confavreux, the embassy spokesman, told the New York Times that this was done in response to an AP tweet that garnered an astonishing 20 million views and 18,000 retweets before it was deleted. The response to the tweet was mainly mockery on social media.

Sarah Haider jokingly remarked that there was 'nothing as dehumanizing as being considered one of the French', claiming that 'suffering from Frenchness' was a more fitting term. In response to this, political scientist Ian Bremmer proposed 'people experiencing Frenchness' as an alternative. Following the removal of the tweet, the AP stylebook stated that the reference to French people was 'inappropriate', although this was not done with the intention of offending anyone.

Writing about French people, French citizens, etc. is good. However, using the definite article "the" can sound dehumanizing and may imply a single homogenous group over diverse individuals. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid general "the" labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the wealthy, the disabled, and the college-educated. As an example, "people with incomes below the poverty line" can be used instead of "the poor".

Lauren Easton, the vice president of AP corporate communications, commented to the French newspaper Le Monde: The mentioning of 'the French' or 'the college educated' is an attempt to signify that labels should not be applied to any person, regardless of whether they are thought of as positive, negative or neutral stereotypically or traditionally.

The AP stylebook is one of the most acclaimed style guides for authors and other journalists, predominantly in the US.
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