Embassies Are Working on the Most Diplomatic Ways to Use Facebook

Even Chinese embassies use Facebook. What about the rest of the world?

US Embassy in Jakarta Facebook Page
US Embassy in Jakarta Facebook Page Darren Krape

Chinese embassies are increasingly using Facebook to connect with local populations in other countries, even though the social networking site is banned in mainland China. 

From the New Republic

No one would object to the Chinese government using Facebook for self-promotion. Nor is the cleaned-up, perky China found on these pages cause for complaint. What's Facebook for, if not presenting an idealized version of oneself to the world? But the fact that China markets itself on Facebook abroad while blocking the site on the mainland—not to mention deleting the Weibo accounts of American consulates—has a certain irony.

China is hardly the only country to use Facebook for diplomatic purposes, but some countries are more adept at social media than others. Irony aside, China seems to be doing a pretty good job. United States embassies abroad use Facebook pages to engage with people on a less formal level, and as Americans, we're the targets of other countries' outreach efforts, too. Among the more intriguing social media sites from U.S.-based embassies, for instance, are the Netherlands', with a Storify account, the U.K.'s, with a Tumblr and the United Arab Emirates, who raised the bar by creating an HD app available for iPads with both information about the UAE, pictures and games. 

Sometimes these social sites are even useful. From The Washington Diplomat:

In addition to amplifying cultural or political messages, social media is also used to convey more basic information, communicating with local diasporas, for example, or providing timely information to nationals traveling in the United States should events warrant it. During Hurricane Sandy, said Al Mussawi, the embassy was able to use Twitter and Facebook to get in touch with UAE tourists visiting the United States, as did the Italian Embassy.

India’s government is urging its embassies to open more Facebook pages, as are many other nations. But sometimes Facebook posts on embassy pages can end up causing more strife than peace, as was the case in December of 2012 when the semi-official page Israel in Ireland posted a message that was decidedly less than diplomatic.   

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