The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2014 - page 27

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2014
27
Jesse Smith is a graduate student in national intelligence and security
studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He was the
Journal’s
summer
2013 editorial intern.
Digital technology, incorporating the most
recent developments in social media and mobile
applications, is having a profound effect on diplomacy.
BY J ESSE SM I TH
SUCCESS ANDGROWING PAINS:
OFFICIAL USE OF
SOCIAL MEDIA
AT STATE
D
iplomacy is a practice as old as
nation-states themselves, but the way
in which it is performed has changed
continuously with time. When the
United States and the Soviet Union
squared off in the latter half of the
twentieth century, using a telephone
hotline and imagining what life was
like on the other side of the Iron Cur-
tain, few envisioned that only a few
decades later technology wouldmake
such a situation seemworlds away. It seemed similarly inconceiv-
able that in 2013, social media and other digital technologies would
give the Foreign Service and the public virtually limitless access to
the lives of individuals and the actions of governments all over the
world.
On an informal level, the “blogosphere” is verymuch a part of
themodern Foreign Service, particularly for those who joined the
Service during the past decade and also for those serving in remote
places, as
The Foreign Service Journal
has documented in past
issues
and
).The American
re
updated regularly (see p. 30).This list is consistently one of the five
most popular pages on the AFSA site.
But digital technology—including themost recent develop-
ments in social media andmobile applications, in particular—is
having a profound effect on diplomacy at the formal, official level,
as well.The newmedia technologies have already significantly
altered how foreign affairs agencies represent themselves and
publicize the policies they implement—to other governments and
publics, as well as to potential employees. Social media allows more
people inmore places than ever before to access suchmessages,
and this has permanently reshaped how the State Department and
other foreign affairs agencies organize themselves and staff their
offices.
While all six foreign affairs agencies represented by AFSA—
and AFSA itself—maintain some formof social media presence,
FOCUS
SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE FOREIGN SERVICE
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