Thursday, November 21, 2013

Let's infiltrate!

Social Media Conference Sparks Public Diplomacy Debate

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By: Heidi Anderson
Three different speakers spoke collectively on the dicey borders of ethics with social media’s role in public policy at a panel discussion on Thursday.
Former Hamline student and current State Department employee Graham Lampa discussed what the definition of public diplomacy is at his workplace.
“Public diplomacy is people to people engagement and government to people engagement,” said Lampa.
German researcher Phillip Niemann discussed his findings of Germany’s social media usage to promote election campaigns.
Niemann said that his results showed that Germans did not use social media for a political purpose. This was due to their perception of social media accounts being a personal space that requires personal censorship.
Graduate student Maura Youngman discussed another form of censorship, government controlled internet in Russia.
According to Youngman, Russia has a possible blacklist that prevents content such as child pornography and suicide advocacy to be shown on the web in Russia.
Lampa discussed that in his work with the State Department, he is focused on infiltrating foreign countries social media networks to promote the work and image of the United States.
Lampa said that this is particularly important in countries such as Pakistan where the media creates a negative bias against the U.S. His job is to create a social media presence that changes that view.
All three presentations showed that the struggle of ethics with promoting social and political issues through forms of social media is a global issue.
Lampa defended his work of promoting the US in foreign countries by using a personal example. He described his various experiences of travel and studying abroad in Germany as being successful for Germany.
If countries are able to promote opportunities such as study abroad through social media, they will begin to have a presence with individuals outside their borders.
The panel discussion was a part of Hamline’s International Education Week. Other presentations on international issues were held throughout the week.

1 comment:

Graham Lampa said...

Just to be clear, at no point during the discussion at my alma mater during International Education Week (covered here by a student audience member) did I say that the Department is "infiltrating" foreign countries' social media networks. What the student is referring to is my comment that overseas missions have used locally-grown networks such as China's QQ and Sina Weibo and Russia's vKontakte in ways very similar to how we use U.S.-based networks like Facebook and Twitter.