Tags: US | Diplomacy | Social | Media

Friend the World: Diplomats Tap Into Social Media

Thursday, 03 Jun 2010 10:13 AM


  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

Teenagers clicked away on their cell phones in a bustling Iranian marketplace. Ignoring the cold, they exchanged information about parties, dates and potential bandmates with strangers, using Bluetooth technology.

It is this type of simple adaptation of social networking that is key to U.S. public diplomacy efforts, said Jared Cohen, a member of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's policy planning staff. Cohen recalled visiting Iran about five years ago while researching a book and seeing young Iranians in the southwestern city of Shiraz busily texting each other. Communicating, but no one was talking.

Diplomats with decades of experience and knowledge need to work with the under-30 age group that is deftly using Internet-based communication technology, Cohen said. Traditional channels of diplomacy are fine, but they will need an assist from Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to succeed.

"They're an incredible resource that needs to be harnessed," Cohen said during a lecture sponsored by Ogilvy Public Relations.

Cohen noted a few powerful examples. After the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, text messaging was crucial to collecting donations for emergency relief. In Afghanistan, Cohen said, he encountered inmates who smuggled in cell phones to organize riots.

And, Cohen said, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe pointed out that the most recent major demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known by the Spanish acronym FARC, could not have happened without social networking, specifically Facebook, to organize protests with millions of supporters worldwide.

The U.S. government also should recognize these "tools for empowerment" can be used with good or bad intentions, Cohen said, adding that there is no better time than now to influence these new technologies.

Vinton Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google, agreed. Seated on the front row for Cohen's remarks, Cerf said new communication technologies are platforms for conversations that otherwise would not have taken place.

The Obama administration is "the first administration I can think of that has engaged this deeply the use of technology in the State Department," Cerf said.

Hoping to harness social media's diplomatic potential, the State Department launched the Virtual Student Foreign Service program last year. College students interning with foreign embassies use their online skills to write blogs and interview diplomats. As the program grows, so will their responsibilities.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Retype Email:
Zip Code:
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

Boston Bombing Nightmare Leads Survivor to Dream Startup

Monday, 21 Apr 2014 06:15 AM

Hours after the blast that ruptured an eardrum and left a 9-inch gash in one leg -- but spared her life -- Amanda North  . . .

Space Station Gets Easter Delivery of Food, Supplies

Sunday, 20 Apr 2014 15:42 PM

A Space Exploration Technologies' cargo ship made an Easter Sunday delivery of food, science experiments and supplies to . . .

Obamacare Enrollees Urged to Change Passwords over Heartbleed Bug

Sunday, 20 Apr 2014 10:55 AM

Americans with accounts on President Barack Obama's health insurance enrollment website, HealthCare.gov, were advised th . . .

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved