Week 6 Blogging – What do you think are the limitations or problems with the turn to new and social media for US public diplomacy? Do these critiques outweigh the advantages?

What do you think are the limitations or problems with the turn to new and social media for US public diplomacy? Do these critiques outweigh the advantages? 

There was some saying about limitations of the new digital diplomacy; one particular concern is that digital diplomacy is now making foreign policy less foreign, in which this idea has been brought up by Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and Douglas Frantz, Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Public Affairs in their meeting with Department of State last year.

As they said, diplomats encourage every responsible person at the State Department to be engaged in social media. However, “with that encouragement comes a certain amount of risk. And – but these are people generally we have to trust their judgment. Social media is an interactive platform. You know what. And so if you wait to come back to the State Department and get clearance on how to respond to a question over Twitter, it’ll take days if not weeks, and the conversation will be over.”

The whole idea is that they want people to be engaged. They also want people to be willing and able to take responsible risks. It’s certainly something that Secretary Kerry has encouraged and we’re pushing it down. And the State Department can be like many bureaucracies – a rather risk-averse environment – and so you have to reinforce this. In this, I don’t think taking risks is necessarily a problem or limitation, rather, it will call to the importance of social responsibility and internet freedom, that would definitely bring digital diplomacy into a higher stage, where PD is not limited in politics but more culture and people oriented.

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One thought on “Week 6 Blogging – What do you think are the limitations or problems with the turn to new and social media for US public diplomacy? Do these critiques outweigh the advantages?

  1. nertilalatifi says:

    I agree with Anqi with regards to Social Media limitations and advantages for US Diplomacy. I would add upon the citation by Evan Ryan, that ‘digital diplomacy is making foreign policy less foreign’; with the technological advancement ‘the foreign’ as a concept is shrinking, as people are less and less estranged and closer than ever to opposite parts of the worlds.

    The risk of personal discretion in bureaucracy is a largely discussed issue in Public Administration. While the accountability of public officials and institutions requires bureaucratic procedures, in Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy, the importance of it is even greater, given the large impact on international policy. Wars have been started because of ‘misunderstandings’ and faux-pas’ before.
    However, the world is shifting its discussions to the digital platform, and in the words of Ben Scott, Innovation Advisor to Hillary Clinton: “Our basic assumption is that we’ve all lost control of the information environment — the only option is to embrace the change and work to shape it.”

    There are risks attached to digital diplomacy, but there are also plenty advantages. The main ideas is for content and messages to be received by the audience, and since the audience is shifting to the digital platform, public diplomacy has to follow along, just as commercial and social industries have done.

    Like

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