Germany’s foreign office has apologised after an ill-judged joke on its Twitter account linking visas to seduction.
“Your visa got approved #SeduceSomeoneinFourWords,” the diplomatic service tweeted in a move that seemed to confirm long-standing stereotypes about the clunky German sense of humour.
The social media account, which is in English, was attempting to ride the wave of a Twitter trend which emerged on Thursday and spread around the world.
With the hashtag #SeduceSomeoneinFourWords, Twitter users were suggesting four-word sentences that would spark romance. The fad attracted a mix of genuine and humorous responses.
After six hours and 20 minutes and numerous complaints, the foreign office deleted the offending tweet and apologised.
“Being funny is apparently not always our strong suit,” it said on Twitter.
“We know the visa process is complex, and visa decisions can deeply affect peoples' lives. Our colleagues take these decisions very seriously.”
Being funny is apparently not always our strong suit. We deleted the tweet below and apologize to all who were offended by this. We know the visa process is complex, and visa decisions can deeply affect peoples‘ lives. Our colleagues take these decisions very seriously. pic.twitter.com/VP7dmH6l05— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) January 16, 2020
Some people on Twitter welcomed the apology and criticised the original tweet for insensitivity. Others were infuriated by the apology because they felt that the foreign office had caved to people who had no sense of humour and were too easily offended.
Other European foreign ministries proved far more adept than the Germans when it came to Twitter diplomacy.
France’s foreign office deftly played on national stereotypes by tweeting, “Hi I’m French #SeduceSomeoneinFourWords”.
Belgium’s diplomats also used the hashtag to champion their country’s strengths.
“Some beer, chocolate & waffles #SeduceSomeoneinFourWords,” the Belgian foreign ministry tweeted, accompanied with mouth-watering pictures of the famous national delicacies.
It is unclear exactly where the hashtag originated but it has caught on around the globe, including in Britain.
The British Army's recruitment department tweeted: “I wear a uniform #SeduceSomeoneinFourWords”.
“Roam my massive ramparts,” was the racy offering from English Heritage’s account, which posted a picture of a grass covered defensive wall.