Saturday, December 5, 2015

Digital Diplomacy

According to Mathew Wallin—renowned public diplomacy scholar— public diplomacy is defined as communication with foreign publics for the purpose of achieving a foreign policy objective. Even though public diplomacy might sound as a new term for many people including me before I started graduate school is actually a very common foreign policy tool. Historically public diplomacy has developed a bad reputation because of its continuous use of propaganda. However, during the last decade many scholars in the field emerged and started looking at it differently. The main idea now is to create connections with foreign public and start a dialogue with them. Even more recently the term digital diplomacy arose, and it refers to the use social media tools in public diplomacy efforts.

More than 75% of the world leaders have twitter accounts and some of personally use it to communicate with each other and with local and foreign public. The phenomenon now even has term, “Twiplomacy”.  For example, in 2011 the Swedish ForeignMinister reached out to his Bahraini counterpart via Twitter, moving a traditionally communications that are usually private to tools in Web 2.0.

Managing social media for head of states sounds taunting, but believe it or not is easier than actually connecting with foreign target audiences through social media. Usually the main goal of public diplomacy is to positively enhance the views or approval of the country that is carrying out the efforts. This requires more than communicating directly with the decision makers. The purpose and the greatest challenge rest in connecting with the youth, and thought leaders of the country. Achieving this demands continuous two-way communication, which again is not simple, especially when its in a different language and culture. Right now the U.S. government main goal now is to counterattack the cyber efforts that ISIS has been doing, they have team exclusively dedicated to this. There are many opinions in the matter, but what do you think would be the move for the U.S. in this controversial issue?

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