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Obama, Cameron 'selfie' creates online stir

SOWETO, South Africa--U.S. President Barack Obama may have moved the masses attending Nelson Mandela's memorial service with his stirring eulogy on Tuesday, but it was his grinning “selfie” with the Danish and British premiers that set social networks abuzz.

In a candid moment captured by AFP photographer Roberto Schmidt, Denmark's Helle Thorning-Schmidt can be seen holding up her smartphone, with Obama lending a helping hand, as they pose for a picture with David Cameron, all three of them smiling broadly in their seats at Soweto's World Cup stadium.

First lady Michelle Obama, sitting to the left of her husband, does not join in with the lightheartedness, keeping her eyes firmly trained on the podium where world leaders were paying tribute to South Africa's anti-apartheid hero Mandela, who died Thursday aged 95.

The so-called selfie — short for self-portrait — was quickly picked up by major international news outlets and went viral on social media sites, with many questioning whether the moment of mirth was appropriate for the occasion.

“There should be a moratorium on 'selfies' during memorials and funerals, no?” tweeted @JeffryHalverson.

“Is This The Most Important Selfie Of 2013?” headlined the U.S.-based social news website Buzzfeed, noting that Michelle Obama seemed “not amused” by the impromptu photoshoot.

A photo of the leaders photographing themselves was featured on the front pages of British media such as The Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror.

In the United States, the Washington Post also ran the photo of the trio on its website in a story on that incident and Obama shaking hands at the service with Cuban leader Raul Castro. It was not on the front page but rather in the Politics section. It noted the viral trajectory of the photo.

“All of it serves as a reminder — as if we needed one — that even the best-laid plans of politicians tend to veer wildly off course in this age of social media,” the Post story said.

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U.S. President Barack Obama jokes with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt as first lady Michelle Obama looks on at right during the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa, Tuesday, Dec. 10.

(AP)

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