Alicia M. Cohen revealed that the U.S. State Department has put an end to America.gov–a digital project established in 2008 to promote Democracy in foreign countries. In its place, the State Department has initiated numerous social media projects. According to Cohen, this change in course has come largely as a result of the central role that social media has played in the Egyptian revolts during the Arab Spring. IIP Deputy Assistant Secretary Duncan MacInnes explained the need for teaching individuals how to write in a more concise manner – a process which he calls “chunk.” The government’s creating “packages” of social media material from articles and is disseminating the information on the Web via social networks (e.g. Facebook and Twitter).
Geneive Abdo mentions that in 2009, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps instigated a “cyber defense command to counter online political activism, making Facebook and Twitter inaccessible to those without filter proxies in the West.” Moreover, during the Arab Spring, the Egyptian government shut down the Internet in response to the widespread protests.
Question: As the U.S. welcomes greater involvement with social media, countries in the Middle East are becoming more wary. Do you think that the U.S. government’s increased role in social media will affect the use of social media in foreign countries? Furthermore, MacInnes has unearthed that the Internet is now comprised of approximately 70 percent foreign languages, compared to the 75 percent English makeup from three to four years ago. What accounts for this new phenomenon?