The Challenges of YouTube Diplomacy | USC Center on Public Diplomacy | PD News – CPD Blog

Another angle on the turmoil embroiling some of the so-called “Arab street”–how to manage public diplomacy when messaging is hard to contextualize:

Particularly in Arab countries, where years of tensions and frustrations make hair-trigger responses common, the task for public diplomacy by the United States is exceedingly complex and is made more so by the borderless reach of social media. Diplomats must be as determined as are the troublemakers, maintaining a steady stream of information that is presented in ways that can compete effectively for audience. The U.S. State Department recognizes this and delivers high-quality public diplomacy programs, but much remains to be done. Given that online sites are increasingly turned to as substitutes for traditional broadcast channels, the State Department’s YouTube channel, for example, should offer timely, carefully designed content, not merely archival material.

What is so frustrating about the Innocence of Muslims case is that a few loopy hate-mongers can be perceived – even if by a relatively small number of people – as representatives of the United States. That illustrates both the power and the weakness of social media, and it underscores the challenges of YouTube diplomacy.

via The Challenges of YouTube Diplomacy | USC Center on Public Diplomacy | PD News – CPD Blog.


5 thoughts on “The Challenges of YouTube Diplomacy | USC Center on Public Diplomacy | PD News – CPD Blog”

  1. This article brought up two interesting points. The first is that diplomacy is not just being conducted by diplomats or by UN delegates, but the general public rather than the general assembly is now dictating foreign policy. It’s a scary thought, but this issue highlights the power of the Internet granted to practically anyone who has access to a computer. This makes every citizen a spokesperson for his country, and “a growing challenge for American diplomats will be to convey, however delicately, that America as a whole isn’t responsible for what appears on YouTube.” (Boston Globe)

    The second point is the issue of freedom of speech. In America, we believe that freedom of speech should be granted liberally, even if it means taking that freedom to make fun of or disrespect someone else. Although painful, it’s easier to contain when we use this freedom to speak out against each other. But this time it was used to lash out against a worldwide Muslim population. This controversy highlighted the differences between American beliefs and the freedoms of other countries. It begs the question: is it okay to grant freedom of speech even when it’s used to lash out at other nations? Do we want to give ‘power to the people’ when it could lead us into worldwide conflict?

  2. My frustration with this whole situation in the Middle East is due to the response from the White House. They have merely threatened instead of acting. I have a brother who is stationed at the embassy in Sudan. He has been going through hell trying to protect the embassy for the past week. The United States tried to send reinforcements to protect our embassy, but was denied access by the Sudanese Government. They stated simply that they can handle the situation. So the United States reaction is a sheepish “okay.” Why does the White House continue to walk on egg shells while American lives are at risk? We need immediate action or it will be facing a lot more casualties than just those in Libya. Part of that action should be a statement from the White House that the individuals who made the film do not represent the United States. Doing such would deny justification for the anti-American protests.

  3. Freedom of speech is a complex part of this issue. There is a big difference in the American belief in free speech and the beliefs in countries like Egypt and Libya where videos such as the “Innocence of Muslims” are viewed as blasphemous and illegal. Legally the US government can do nothing to punish the maker of this video as the protesters wish. As free speech should be protected, we can only do our best to show that we do not agree with the maker of the film without taking legal action.

    Google, the owner of YouTube, has played both sides of the issue in dealing with the response to the previously mentioned video. It has refused to remove it from its sites but has blocked access in countries such as India, Indonesia, and more recently Egypt and Libya. Since it is a private company, it can respond much more flexibly than the US government can, which might not necessarily be best for free speech in the long run.,0

  4. I don’t mean to belabor the point, but at what cost does America uphold freedom of speech?
    Since when did freedom of speech encompass the spirit of racism and supremacy?
    This made me ponder about the Founding Fathers and the spirit of democracy they embodied when drafting the constitution, Bill of Rights, and various publications (i.e. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense). Did the Founding Fathers really have this in mind when they were protecting people’s freedom of speech? How America has evolved– for the better and for the worse.

  5. This is an interesting topic because I think we are seeing the beginning of the development of a new industry. This event (the attacks throughout the world over a YouTube video) can be compared to September 11th in the following way;

    Because of the events of September 11th security nationwide, even worldwide, was tightened. This tragedy created a larger demand for airport security personnel, federal security personnel and even engineers to design security equipment. This demand led to many job openings. Likewise, it will be interesting to see what this event will lead to. As it is becoming increasingly more important to be aware of what is being watched, read, etc. online an entirely new job field could possibly be created. Or an entirely new government agency. Workers would be trained and focused on being very aware of what is being watched and listened to via the internet and making decisions whether or not it could present a security risk and acting accordingly. All the while trying to protect our freedom of speech.

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