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TWIPLOMACY: Social networks bring foreign policy closer to citizens, says Terzi

“E-diplomacy” or “Twiplomacy” is a reality. And social networks are a unique opportunity for diplomacy to receive, create and disseminate news to citizens. Italian diplomacy is engaged in numerous web-based initiatives. A new MFA portal for “Italy in the World”.

“On 9 February my tweet ‘The massacre of innocent civilians in Syria must end’ attracted an extraordinary response from followers”. This was Minister Terzi’s comment at the Forum on “Diplomacy in the Age of Twitter” organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the City of Turin with the collaboration of La Stampa. The Forum took place at the International Labour Organization’s International Training Centre in Turin.

The Minister mentioned this episode to illustrate the potential of the new social networking technologies. In the past, any condemnation of the violence in Syria would have taken the form of a formal note. A note that “would have stayed in a drawer of the Syrian Embassy in Rome or may have been leaked to the press and perhaps reported by a few papers the next day”. As Terzi underscored, the “social media bring foreign policy closer to citizens”.

“E-diplomacy” is a reality

E-diplomacy – or “Twiplomacy” as we chose to call it today – is a reality. […] Social media are indeed a unique opportunity for diplomacies in order to collect, create – and yes, spin – information. Millions of people can be met where they are and we can share with them our ideas and our work”. Never in the past has technology brought diplomacy so close to people. Terzi pointed out that he had opened a Twitter account immediately he took up his position at the Foreign Ministry. He added that his followers discuss his messages – and do not spare him any harsh criticism.

Italy diplomacy opens its doors to the Web

“From Washington to Bucharest, from Tunis to Beijing”, continued Minister Terzi, “Italian diplomacy has opened its doors to a potentially vast audience of both Italian expats and foreigners. 48 Embassies, Consulates and Italian cultural institutes have opened an account on at least one social network. We have 45 Facebook pages, 7 official Twitter profiles and many more diplomats tweeting all around the world”. Terzi also announced that “based on the experience of our American friends, la Farnesina is introducing training in social media management in the standard pre posting process for our diplomats”.

The MFA’s new portal

A further announcement was that from 14 June 2012 “a completely new version of the Foreign Ministry website – – will be online. The new site has been designed to look more like an online news portal where text is often replaced by images that link users to more detailed items written in a more direct and less bureaucratic language. A language that is meant to interest readers who are not necessarily familiar with foreign policy issues”.

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