twitter diplomacy

Digital behavior, trends, and opportunities can raise awareness of particular issues in a country. This extends well beyond, for example, simply posting a few tweets as a form of diplomacy. According to Ambassador Rudolf Bekink of the Embassy of the Netherlands, “the digital arena opens new possibilities, from one-on-one conversations to dialogues with communities.” Traditional diplomacy is still relevant, he says, “but digital diplomacy adds enormously to the capabilities of every diplomat.” 

Judith Martin, the popular American columnist better known as “Miss Manners”, advocates restraint when responding to insults: “I don't believe in answering rudeness with rudeness”, she once said in an interview. In extreme circumstances, however, – such as when a man asks a woman whether she’s expecting – Martin does permit to “defend one’s own honor.”

On his first anniversary as secretary of state on Tuesday, John Kerry celebrated by reactivating his Twitter handle. “It only took a year but @StateDept finally let me have my own @Twitter account,” Mr. Kerry tweeted with the hashtag #JKTweetsAgain, as if to suggest he had been held hostage for the last year without a BlackBerry.

DiploFoundation and Istituto Diplomatico of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have published Twitter for Diplomats by Andreas Sandre (@andreas212nyc). It is the first publication in a series designed to analyze how social media diplomacy helps create – and maintain – a true conversation between policymakers and citizens, between diplomats and foreign public.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Twitter footprint improved in 2012, but it still lags behind other leaders in the region. According to a report released last month by the Digital Policy Council (DPC) that ranked all 123 heads of state with Twitter accounts, Netanyahu jumped three places, from #31 to #28.

The reaction so far to newly proposed State Department guidelines for staff members tweeting in their official capacity about certain subjects has been universally negative. Under the proposed guidelines, obtained by the Diplopundit blog, there could be up to a two-day review ahead of publishing posts on social media sites.

Hundreds of Chinese netizens posted comments marvelling that the Canadian envoy at the time – David Mulroney – was driving a relatively inexpensive car compared to the luxury vehicles favoured by their own officials. In just one click, Ottawa had managed to engage a wide audience in a debate about corruption and transparency, using one of China’s hugely popular social networks.