Twitter Diplomacy and IMF Surveillance: Social Media, Information Dissemination, and the Challenge of Policy Leverage

Principal Investigator:
Martin Edwards, CPD Research Fellow 2018-20

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is charged with practicing surveillance of member country economies through the release of annual reports that discuss the state of each member’s economy, raise questions about areas of concern, and recommend corrective policies. These surveillance activities take up approximately 42% of staff time and about 60% of the time of the Fund’s Executive Board, covering about 120-130 consultations per year. The goal for my CPD Research Fellowship is to understand the extent to which surveillance is incorporated into the IMF’s digital diplomacy, and whether the IMF’s digital diplomacy about surveillance leads to greater information dissemination.

This project helps us to better assess how and in what ways international organizations use digital diplomacy. Developing an understanding of how the IMF uses surveillance in its digital diplomacy helps us to see whether the IMF’s digital diplomacy can be a force multiplier. I will examine one calendar year worth of tweets from the IMF’s main English language account (@IMFNews) to ascertain the extent to which the Fund’s surveillance activities are reflected in its digital diplomacy, and I will estimate the factors that make IMF tweets more likely to be retweeted.  A further analysis of tweets about surveillance will help us to understand who is doing the retweeting. Answering these questions will shed light on how the IMF uses digital diplomacy as well as assess its potential value in information dissemination.