Cohn and Abdo provide a unique contrast in how governments utilize or control the Internet and social media. Cohn notes the government’s shift away from America.gov to a “‘more proactive’ Web engagement strategy” (Cohn). They describe that their new strategy is based on the idea that “people don’t visit you, you have to go to them.” This more proactive web strategy involved using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Because the content is being put on these websites, the government is having their content made shorter to fit Facebook posts and over several Tweets. To go along with this effort, the government has also added increased emphasis on translation services. This is very important because other countries’ governments and, perhaps more notably, their citizens can find out about American foreign policy issues. These services allow for American policies to be spread, perhaps to countries with political strife and mistreated populations, like Iran.
Abdo’s piece outlines the lack of support that the Americans gave the Iranian protesters during the events of 2009. At the time, the protestors were demanding many different things, and were “far less unified in its goals” than Egypt in its rebellions. Abdo also notes how the U.S. was far more supportive of the Egyptian protestors than of the Iranians. She then explains that if the Iranians had similar American support, perhaps the 2009 Iranian rebellions would not have lost its legs. In much the same way, had the Iranian protesters utilized the American foreign policy sites, they could have been better suited in the protests. The protestors could have been more informed about the Americans’ stance on issues, and could align themselves thusly. With these translations of information on social networking sites, the world’s massive young population could be in a better place to communicate with their governments and get what they want. Perhaps with the State Department’s new social media strategy, the Iranians would not have needed similar support that the Egyptians got to go forth with their rebellion. They would have known to be more direct in their goals and would have not been stopped.
What do you think? Do you think the 2009 Iranian protests would have been more successful with more American support? Or if they had more succinct goals?