The US State department has made clear its investment in social media in helping people in emergencies, fighting crime and spreading knowledge of the United States to other countries.
In a statement from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 21st Century statecraft is described as "complementing traditional foreign policy tools with newly innovated and adapted instruments of statecraft that fully leverage the networks, technologies, and demographics of our interconnected world."
The State department looks to apply knowledge of the past with currently technologies to enable individual social power, engagement, and helping economies to flourish. The US Department has named January as the 21st Century Statecraft Month.
Social media puts power in the hands of citizens in ways that weren’t previously possible, so the goal really is for diplomats to keep up with that and that’s what we are really trying to here. Social media really advantages everyday citizens — it can help influence diplomats.
Hillary Clinton’s Senior Advisor of Technology and Innovation, Alec Ross strongly promotes using social media to help support the State department’s goals. He says that social media is changing the ecology of geopolitics and giving individuals power that would normally not be possible.
"Social media is being used in presidential politics the world around but it’s also being used very locally. And what social media tends to do is it redistributes power — it redistributes power from hierarchies to citizens, from large institutions and the nation state, to individuals and networks of individuals," he said.
"We’ve seen this in presidential elections like our own in the United states but we’ve also seen its impact in citizen centred movements like in the Arab Spring, in northern Africa, and in Syrian and in elsewhere so social media is proving to be something of an enormous consequence in politics and government the world around."
The State department has over 190 social media accounts with more than half owned by individual embassies. The State department also uses Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and YouTube.
Click here for a full schedule of events related to 21st Century Statecraft month.
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