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Department of Defense's mental health tweet incites Trump critics

Commentary: A serious tweet about social media offering a window into people's mental health sends some Twitterers wondering to whom it might be referring.

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


The tweet in question.

Department of Defense/Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Is it going to be like this for the next four years?

Oh, what am I saying? It's always been like this.

Someone finds something on Twitter, the tweet spreads, the comments multiply and the interpretations are as opposed as they are provocative.

This seems to have happened with a perfectly serious tweet emitted on Monday by the US Department of Defense to its more than 3.2 million followers. It read: "Social media postings sometimes provide an important window into a person's #mentalhealth. Know what to look for."

It linked to an article describing how social media can be used by professionals to help service members and their families in suicide prevention efforts.

No sooner had the tweet gone live than some Twitterers accused the department's Twitter managers of offering a sly criticism of the president and his tweeting tendencies.

For example, this from Summer Brennan: "Day 3 of American Dystopia, and @DeptofDefense is subtweeting the president."

After more than 8,000 retweets and 11,000 likes, the tweet enjoyed commentary that suggested the Department of Defense was following the example of the National Parks Service. Its Twitter account was shut down after appearing to mock the attendance at Donald Trump's inauguration.

The Department of Defense didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

It could conceivably be, of course, that the commentators are right, that there was some attempt at subtweeting subterfuge in this case.

But here we are. Even those who are tweeting serious things -- especially working for government -- may have to now analyze more closely any possible interpretations of those tweets.

There's a certain contrast, indeed, between the commentary on Twitter and that on the department's Facebook account. There, a post about the article and the social media research it discussed had a mere 55 shares and no commentary about any supposed slyness.

Tweets just seem to have more power, don't they?

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