Diplomatic Briefing

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Commentaries: US takes its diplomacy digital

When John Kerry took to Twitter on his first day as US secretary of state, he joined an army of diplomats using social media to reach out and connect directly with people around the world. “Exhilarating to walk into @StateDept today and get to work with remarkable team. Dad on mind! -JK,” Kerry wrote in his first personal tweet. In less than 140 characters, the new US top diplomat instantly signaled he intended to carry on and deepen a commitment to using social media begun under his predecessor Hillary Clinton. Clinton did not tweet, but she propelled the State Department towards what she called 21st Century Statecraft, and social media engagement has taken off. There are now more than 300 Twitter accounts with some three million followers, over 400 Facebook pages with close to 20 million fans, and 185 YouTube channels as well as Flickr, Google+ and Instagram links run by the State Department, its embassies, staff and diplomats. Most of the embassy Facebook pages are written both in English and the local language, and the official Twitter accounts are in 11 languages including Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Hindi, Russian and Turkish. Absent any diplomatic ties with Iran, there’s even a “virtual embassy of Tehran” (http://iran.usembassy.gov/) set up in late 2011 and managed from Washington carrying information about visas and studying in the United States.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201338story_8-3-2013_pg4_7

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