In The Challenges of the Internet and Social Media in Public Diplomacy introduction, Matthew Wallin, senoir policy analyst at the American Security Project, adopts a very opportune historical perspective lacking in many discussions on such a relevant problem:
When examining how to best adapt to the challenges presented by the relatively “new” nature of the internet and social media, it is crucial to comprehend that governments have successfully adapted to previous communications revolutions such as the telegraph, radio, and television. Understanding that each of these new mediums had their limits, the use of online tools and social media should not be treated as a panacea. At the core, the goals of traditional diplomacy have not changed with each revolution. Te advent of the internet may be making public diplomacy more public and more prominent, but it does not change the basic premise, conduct or goals of statecraf.
The coincidence in the last few years of a new communications’ revolution, headed by internet , mobile phones and social networks, with political tensions and weakening nation states in many regions of the planet have turned many in the international society to establish a firm connection between political transformation and the power of social media. Questioning that premise as an automatic and unstopable cause and effect linkage, Matthew Wallin, senior policy analyst for the American Security Project, separates facts from fiction in a very complex laberynth, reaching the following conclusions:
- Using the internet and social media for government public diplomacy purposes may be more difficult than many practitioners anticipate.
- Though social media platforms may be free to use, proper use of the medium is both time and labor intensive.
- Engagement though the internet and social media is best when used as a component of real-world diplomacy.
- Metrics must measure both actual audience and influence.
- Traditional broadcast mediums have the potencial to be used interactively.
- The revolution in communication ushered in by the internet is evident not in the medium itself, but in the standards and expectations it has created.
Related Wallin’s Blog Posts
02/07/2013The Military’s Inform, Influence and Confuse Activitiesby Matthew Wallin
02/06/2013Public Diplomacy and Online Platforms: Radio Liberty’s Caseby Lívia Pontes Fialho
02/04/2013Military “Propaganda” in its Current Formby Matthew Wallin