Statecraft as Selfies

With the current selfie craze taking the world by storm, it was only a matter of time before someone started to look at digital diplomacy through the same lens. In a recent post on the blog Exploring Digital Diplomacy, the author argues that the selfie as a digital self-portrait is a form of impression management. So when the U.S. State Department posts to its Twitter and Facebook accounts it is presenting a carefully crafted version of itself, one that projects a certain image: just like a traditional selfie.

The author collected all the Facebook and Twitter posts of the State Department over a three week period (492 posts and 1,330 tweets) and came to three main conclusions about the types of content covered.

At that point in time, the US was in the middle of attempting to broker a peace deal between Israel and Palestine. The posts showed the U.S.’s posts of Secretary Kerry with Palestinian leaders were then quickly followed with posts of him with the Israeli leaders. A careful balancing act that strove to show that the U.S. was fair and balanced.

Other observations included the low profile of U.S. armed forces (beyond human interest stories) and a strong focus on U.S. foreign aid programs.

This digital diplomacy selfie shows how the U.S. wants to be seen: a fair broker of peace, a do-gooder, and a humanitarian.


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