Comment Paper – 6: Social Media and Foreign Policy


Turkey internet ban protest 2011There is only one country in the world whose political system tolerates wide rumors on the Internet.  U.S. government uses CMC not only for educating but also to promote policy to the entire world via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other types of SNS (Dubrovsky, 2011).  By following the official U.S. departments’ account in the new media, I came up with the following questions: what will be the reaction of the other countries’ diplomats? Are the least developed countries able to keep their political propaganda and fight with western pro-democracy values? How does a new medium change political diplomacy and communication?

Using social media for foreign policy is a brilliant idea. Thus a main consumer of the new media is the younger generation or middle class who can buy at least a smartphone. After the decades these users will be familiar with Western foreign policy and more likely to participate in the discussion of world politics. Western politicians’ decision to use social media motivated the Kazakh government to develop local social media tools to keep the Kazakh users in the national political discourse. Compared with other Central Asian governments, the Kazakh governors did not ban world known social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube to save the citizen from western “brainwashing”. As we see the reaction of the using CMC for political reasons can negatively affect some users.

 

Now we can see different accounts on Facebook, where the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan updates the news and tries to create a best image via communication with users. Official accounts are more serious and present bored updates, but because of their useful content and the fact that it is stylish to be a friend with the U.S. White House on a Facebook, many users follow them. Official accounts can prevent rumors, provide with trusted information (Garret et al, 2011) and build credibility or sympathy (Wang et al, 2008).

It would be very interesting to see the difference of using SNS during the U.S. presidential election campaign and how it will be presented in the new media to the world. Gibbis (2011) could not prove relation between uncertainty and Internet experience in online dating. I think Internet literacy (Livingstone, 2008, p. 110) plays a crucial role in political communication on the Internet. All in all, the effectiveness of the CMC can be evaluated by Internet literacy. But I couldn’t find any data about the Internet literacy of the respondents who were involved in the research.

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