You will see in the next 10 minutes that Digital Diplomacy is now conducted in 140 character bursts. Twitter has become the best tool for broadcasting messages and connecting with peers. However Twitter Diplomacy is becoming less and less diplomatic and is dominated by Twitter trolling. 2015 might well become the year of Digital Warfare.
According to our Twiplomacy study, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is the best connected world leader. He can send direct messages to almost 100 of his peers. The EU’s external action service is second, followed by the Russian, French and Swedish Foreign Ministries.
Well, some do press the sent button as did Pope Benedict when he sent the first Tweet on the @Pontifex account.
And a couple of months ago, Queen Elizabeth sent her first personal tweet on the @BritishMonarchy account. But I have to admit very few actually write the tweets themselves.
Russia’s Prime Minister posted a mirror selfie in an elevator to thank his 400,000 followers on Instagram.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made history when he took a selfie in the election booth. All these leaders have discovered Twitter to be a formidable broadcasting tool to reach an audience of thousands if not millions.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia, @NajibRazak consistently posts selfies with his foreign guests. Including President Barack Obama, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President François Hollande
For the record, he now uses a selfie stick to engage the crowds.
In 2014 our leaders engaged in hashtag diplomacy and tried to #BringBackOurGirls
The most retweeted Tweet sent by the Kremlin was the tweet announcing the incorporation of Crimea into Russia in March this year.
A week later the State Department countered with the hashtag #UnitedForUkraine, a hashtag that was tweeted by the US embassies worldwide and its key allies. What do you think was the Russian response? The Russian Foreign Ministry decided to hijack the hashtag and also tweeted #UnitedForUkraine to its 60,000 followers taking the punch out of the hashtag.
The confrontation over Ukraine turned sadly comic at the end of August when the Canadian Mission to NATO posted this guide for Russian soldiers who kept getting lost, ‘accidentally’ entering Ukraine.
The Russian mission to NATO replied with a tit for tat with this map. Helping our Canadian colleagues to catch up with contemporary geography of #Europe where Crimea is now part of Russia.
The confrontation turned belligerent in early September when @NATO posted new satellite images showing #Russia's combat troops in #Ukraine
The Russian embassy in the UAE replied with a picture of toy tanks, mocking: #NATO's latest evidence of #Russian armor invading #Ukraine.
For the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, however there is no doubt: #UkraineIsUnderAttack, #RussiaInvadedUkraine Please Retweet
The hostilities on Twitter are also fuelled by an army of trolls. Estonian President Toomas Ilves is bombarded daily with abuse. He even posted a series of tweets showing the abuse he was getting. As a politician on social media you have to have thick skin.
I hope that our leaders will not be discouraged by the abuse and will continue to lead. As the Prime Minister of Namibia summed it up nicely: Be a leader, not a follower. Lol.
I sincerely hope that in 2015 Digital Diplomacy will not turn into Digital Warfare. Thank you very much