SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE ADVANCEMENT OF AMERICA'S SOFT POWER BY PUBLIC DIPLOMACY
For hundreds of years, countries have engaged in diplomatic relations in order to advance their national interests. Most people think of diplomacy in the traditional sense, which is characterized by government bodies or officials communicating with each other. Since the last century, however, there has been increased emphasis on the practice of public diplomacy, which involves governments communicating with foreign citizens in order to alter their attitudes. The United States still uses traditional means of diplomacy, as well as twentieth-century tools of public diplomacy, such as the use of radio broadcasts, specifically by means of the Voice of America, but recent events such as the Arab Spring suggest that embracing new forms of media is an effective means of conducting public diplomacy. This thesis shows how the United States government has used new media in public diplomacy, and how it currently uses social media to advance its soft power, which according to Joseph S. Nye, Jr., is "the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments" and "arises from a country's culture, political ideals and policies." The social media to be examined consist primarily of social networking sites, weblogs, and social videos. The effectiveness of new media throughout history will be compared to the new media of today, demonstrating how social media is among the most important component of contemporary discussions on US public diplomacy.
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