Weekly #DigitalDiplomacy news review

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As we try to offer every Friday, we’ve compiled a list of interesting and recent pieces of news. The main news of this week has been the Twitter and YouTube blockade in Turkey, the Google Hangout about whether or not ambassadors and political leaders should tweet personally and a view of MEPs using social media, in the context of the upcoming EU elections.

Social Media and the 2014 European Elections in Europe

On 2 April 2014, Alec Ross, former Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will be speaking at a Conference in Brussels on  social media and the 2014 European elections. You can follow the event via live webstreaming here:

Twitter website ‘blocked’ in Turkey

A Turkish court on Wednesday ordered the government to lift its Twitter ban, according to reports. The court order comes five days after Turkey blocked Twitter, accusing the social network of ignoring orders to remove content. At the time, the country’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledged to “eradicate” Twitter. Meanwhile Twitter announced on Wednseday morning that it has challenged the ban as well, filing petitions for lawsuits with the help of Turkish lawyers. The company said that it has been in contact with Turkish authorities trying to hear their concerns and solve the issue. After the ban, Turks quickly found ways to get around the ban, however, and sent a record number of tweets. Even after the government imposed tougher measures to block Twitter, Turks sidestepped them using Virtual Private Networks and the anonymizing and circumvention tool Tor. Yesterday, Turkey announced that they blocked access to YouTube as well, on grounds that it published a controversial video recording which threatens the legitimacy of the  Erdoğan regime.

Should ambassadors and political leaders tweet personally?

And if they do, how do they find the time? Can their staff tweet for them? What are the tips and tricks for successful personal tweets? Watch this Google Hangout replay from 24 March 2014, with some of the most active “twiplomats”  including: Nicola Clase (Swedish Ambassador to the UK), Tom Fletcher (UK Ambassador to Lebanon), Andreas Sandre (Press and Public Affairs Officer at Embassy of Italy, Washington, DC), Charlotta Ozaki Macias (‎Head of Communication, Swedish Foreign Ministry), Martha McLean, Deputy Director, Online communications (Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Canada), Andrew Stroehlein (European Media Director, Human Rights Watch), Róisín Traynor (Online Editor, International Crisis Group). The discussion was moderated by Matthias Lüfkens, Digital Practice Leader EMEA, Burson-Marsteller.

European Parliament Members’ Twitter Networks

Twitter has become an important channel for political communication in many European countries. Politicians, activists, lobbyists, experts and journalists use the micro-blogging service to exchange information and engage in conversations on current political affairs. In regard to the European elections to be held in May 2014, we can expect Twitter to be an integral part of the media mix for political discussion and campaigning. Check out this analysis which looks at the respective network of Twitter accounts of Members of European Parliament (MEPs).

What was Vladimir Putin’s first tweet?

As you probably now, Twitter offered its users the possibility to remember what was their first tweet ever. Apparently the first tweet of Russian President Vladimir Putin was sent in 2012 and congratulated US President Barack Obama for his winning the elections for the 2nd time. ” (“Congratulations to US President-elect Barack Obama.”)

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