The Islamic Post Blog

Clinton to Graduates: ‘Retool Social Networks for Diplomacy, Activism’ by ipinfo2
December 8, 2012, 12:08 am
Filed under: 2009 June Vol. 1, World

June Vol. 1, 2009

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks at the Barnard College Commencement Ceremony encouraged the late May graduates to use social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter to “unite your friends,” in order to bring attention to social injustices like human trafficking and political detention of journalists. Secretary Clinton also highlighted recent demonstrations organized for democratic causes by youth and students who frequent social networks “like the undergraduates at Northwestern who launched a global fast to bring attention to Iran’s imprisonment of an American journalist,” noted Mrs Clinton, and “like the two recent college graduates in Colombia – the country – who organized 14 million people into the largest anti-terrorism demonstration in history, doing as much damage to the FARC terrorist network in a few weeks than had been done in years of military action.”
In popular culture, the use of social networking –via mediums like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, private blogs, public forums, personal websites, text messaging, and email– to gather large crowds of people united in a common purpose is referred to as the organization of “flash mobs.” The first notable flash mob was designed in Manhattan, in May 2003, by Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper’s Magazine, as a social experiment to highlight the cultural atmosphere of conformity and of wanting to be an insider or part of “the next big thing.” The experiment was an apolitical joke carried out by a few hundred participants at a local Macy’s department store. In 2008, word spread via social technology for more amusement, this time the Worldwide Pillow Fight Day, in which over 25 cities around the world participated, making the event the largest flash mob to date.
After the success of such benign experiments, flash mobs made the rapid switch to being political in nature.
Last month, Moldovan activist, Natalia Morar, was officially charged by the Moldovan government with “calls for organizing and staging mass disturbances.” However, the peaceful flash mob of 300 she and other activists organized to take place in front of the Parliament of Moldova, became known as a “Twitter Revolution” when it turned into a gathering of 10,000 protesters, including the leaders of major opposition parties and the explosive scene quickly became violent.
The US State Department, however, is determined to harness the power of social networking for positive use. Secretary Clinton announced during the speech at Barnard College, the creation of Virtual Student Foreign Service Internships, which will use social networking “to partner American students with our embassies abroad, to conduct digital diplomacy.”

Sources: State Dept., RFE/RL



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