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Selfie photobomb causes international incident at Miss Universe

Technically Incorrect: The contestants are gathered in Miami for Miss Universe. Israel and Lebanon are still at war. This is not the time for modern diplomacy. Can a selfie cause an international incident? Yes, it can.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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The offending image, as posted to Instagram by Miss israel. Doron Matalon/Instagram screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

An international gathering isn't official unless it's garlanded by a selfie.

Whether it's a world leader at the Nelson Mandela memorial or Ellen DegGeneres at the Oscars, a selfie can be the only way to get people to pay attention.

Woe betide, though, if you are seen taking one with a sworn enemy.

This is the lesson learned from Miss Universe. Clearly, we've all learned many lessons from Miss Universe over the years. How to answer inane questions with short elegant words, for example.

However, this time Miss Israel's alleged photobombing of a selfie including Miss Lebanon -- taken in Miami -- has caused uproar.

As NBC News reports, media in Lebanon weren't happy with this image. The two countries are still at war. And this was, well, Miss Universe, an event that is the barometer for all things political.

For her part, Miss Lebanon -- Saly Greige, who has a civil engineering degree -- was forced to turn to Facebook to disavow the image.

She wrote: "Since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel (that tried several times to have a photo with me) ... I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia and myself; suddenly Miss Israel jumped in, took a selfie, and put it on her social media."

Miss Israel -- Doron Matalon -- countered by turning to Instagram. She wrote of Greige's reaction: "It doesn't surprise me, but it still makes me sad. Too bad you can not put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country."

How can the flames surrounding this very modern international incident be doused?

Some might find it odd that, in certain international circles, those who appear to be enemies somehow end up on the same side and even sign agreements with each other.

How will Miss Universe -- these days a joint venture between NBC Universal and the great American statesman Donald Trump -- deal with this?

The Miss Universe Organization offered me this decorous statement: "At an event with one of our charitable partners, Miss Universe Lebanon and Miss Universe Israel innocently ended up in an impromptu photo together, which was then posted on Instagram."

The statement continued: "It is unfortunate to know a photo of four smiling women from different parts of the world, working together at an event, could be misconstrued as anything other than what it is, a celebration of universal friendship, which the Miss Universe pageant is all about."

So someone, somewhere allegedly did some misconstruing. These things can happen in international relations.

Just like the selfie, the photobomb has become a tool of diplomacy. Why, even the queen of England photobombed someone's selfie last year.

Here, though, the effect has been chilling.

Miss Universe takes place January 25. What if Miss Lebanon wins and Miss Israel comes second? What will those pictures look like?