twitter diplomacy

As the Tweeting-Diplomat-in-Chief, U.S. President Donald Trump is transforming digital diplomacy — the leveraging of online communication technologies to pursue foreign policy. What used to be thought of as an opportunity to move diplomacy out of inter-governmental back rooms to a more robust and transparent basis of digitally enabled engagement of stakeholders seems to be getting dragged into the locker room of narcissistic posturing.

A new campaign by Amnesty International has given refugees the chance to take to Twitter as they urge for more action to be taken in the on-going migrant crisis. Social media users who tweet about the crisis have been receiving direct video responses from residents of refugee camps in Lebanon and Kenya. The ‘I Welcome’ campaign has allowed refugees to respond to tweets asking social media users to take action and do more than just share their outrage.

Six days after taking office, President Donald Trump is facing the first international crisis of his administration. And it’s unfolding on Twitter. Following through on campaign promises to crack down on immigration, Trump signed executive orders to both kick-start the construction of a border wall with Mexico and block federal grants for “sanctuary cities“ - jurisdictions that offer safe harbour for undocumented immigrants.

Taiwan’s president didn’t meet with President-elect Donald Trump during her closely watched U.S. stopover this weekend. But she did visit his favorite communication outlet. Tsai Ing-wen posted photos of her tour of Twitter Inc.’s headquarters in San Francisco on her verified account on the social-media site. It was her first tweet in more than two years, and it appeared directed to a global audience.

Digital Diplomacy is the new radio. Ever since politicians figured out that they could speak directly to ‘the masses’, we have had the phenomenon of public diplomacy. It became possible, via radio, to speak directly to people without having to go through official government channels. In the early 20th century, the Nazis and the Bolsheviks effectively used the radio to stoke revolutions in neighbouring countries.

Beijing’s diplomats have been remarkably quiet after the election of Donald Trump, even though the president-elect has signaled his administration will pursue policies fundamentally disadvantageous to China.

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