world war i

The phrase public diplomacy may not have become an official term in the popular press until World War I. But it was during the Civil War that deliberate, state sponsored programs began attempting to influence the public mind abroad about American foreign policy.

Today we take for granted that information warfare — whether the disruption of other nations’ computer systems, the monitoring of citizens’ telephone calls to detect terrorist threats or the use of social media to shape foreign attitudes — is a key tool of national security. But virtually all our concerns about such tactics find their roots in the Great War, particularly in its first hours, when the Alert’s hatchet-wielding crew began its work.

Foreign Office brings World War 1 diplomacy to life online with podcasts and live tweets. To mark 100 years to the day that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, on 28 June the FCO will bring the events leading up to the outbreak of war vividly to life online. Known as the ‘July crisis’, the assassination sparked a diplomatic frenzy and, ultimately, led to the outbreak of World War 1 on 28 July 1914, with Great Britain joining the war on 4 August.