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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How the US uses the social media for propoganda

Although the US media has long since stopped covering the sensitive and embarrassing U.S. State Department cables being released by Wikileaks, other news organizations like The Guardian have continued to report on some of the often embarrassing details in the once classified and secret US cables.

In a recent article by The Guardian, the newspaper reports on a US cable from the diplomatic mission in Indonesia where government bureaucrats requested $ 100,000 to increase the number of fans following the website of its embassy in Jakarta. Although amusing to a certain degree, the once secret cable reveals how government bureaucrats continue to waste American tax payer money. Just another reason to stay off of Facebook.

For more on the Indonesian Facebook story, check out The Guardian article.

The US embassy in Jakarta made a request for $100,000 in funding to boost its Facebook fans to one million weeks before Barack Obama's visit to Indonesia.

A cable sent in February by US diplomats in the Indonesian capital described itself as "already the leading US Mission in the World on Facebook with nearly 50,000 'fans', and one of the leading missions using Twitter, YouTube and engaging local bloggers to promote USG [US government] messages and information."

"We are uniquely positioned to use these tools to amplify key topics and themes to support the upcoming visit by President Obama," it added. The embassy described itself in the cable as "on the forefront of Public Diplomacy 2.0."

Requesting the $100,0000, the cable said that the embassy could boost its Facebook fan page membership to one million in 30 days in a country it described as one of the fastest-growing Facebook markets in the world.

But it is unclear if it reached the target – with or without the money.

By April last year, the total number of Facebook fans of the US Embassies and consulates in Indonesia was 161,000, according to an interview given by the embassy team behind the page.

The cable set out how the money was to be spent, including increasing advertising on Indonesian online portals and elsewhere, as well as generating interest in the presidential visit by offering Facebook users the chance to win a "golden ticket" to meet Obama:

If the White House approves, we could invite fans to post why they should meet President Obama, and in doing so, use our social media platform to connect fans to the visit, as well as build excitement beforehand and follow-up coverage afterwards

The embassy's suggestion that it should also team up with a television show subsequently came to fruition. On a national television show, three Facebook fans of the Jakarta embassy won "educational trips" to the US to visit places that were said to have played a part in Obama's life – this was the embassy's suggested alternative prize if the White House did not give its blessing to meetings with Obama for competition winners.

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