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Vladimir Radunovic September 07, 2012

Mary, this is an interesting observation! Social media certainly are a new means of communications - also in diplomacy; posting such a video there instead of giving a heated interview to a major TV station does not make much "protocol" difference any more, so I am not surprised. "Unfriending" might be too much :) It is the expectations that I am confused about: did Mr Orban think with this he would influence the negotiations any more than with an interview to a popular media? I hope not, and I hope he did it for populism only. Otherwise, he and his crew are well into the "peak of inflated expectations" on "eDiplomacy Gartner Hype Cycle" that Jovan and Pete presented at http://www.diplomacy.edu/blog/e-diplomacy-between-hype-and-reality - and we can expect a "disillusionment" soon!
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Hannah September 07, 2012

I've noticed that some people seem to feel free to express negative feelings openly on social media - much more than they would do in person, I imagine. For example, in an online course I am attending, some participants posted forum messages that were so rude and negative towards course assistants that the organisers felt the postings had to be removed from the classroom (while messages with constructive but strong criticism have not been removed). I am fairly sure these participants would not have expressed themselves in the same way in a personal, face-to-face interaction - I assume they would have felt the need to make their criticism more polite and constructive. Interestingly, the strongly negative postings - at least those I saw - were all posted anonymously. It makes me wonder if for some people, interaction through social media is somehow less real. Or perhaps we have trouble conceiving of the reader as a real person, when we cannot see him or her? This might explain the failure to apply norms of diplomatic interaction (or just plain decent interaction) via social media?
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Mary September 07, 2012

You make an interesting point, Hannah, about the criticisms coming without signatures. Apparently, in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, the US Supreme Court said that '[a]n author’s decision to remain anonymous . . . is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.' All well and good but publishing anonymously online may well turn the public against these 'anonymous cowards' (a term coined by Slashdot). And, in Mr Orban's case at least, he did sign off on it. Perhaps I'm simply old-fashioned in expecting better-than-average behaviour from elected leaders.
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Mary September 07, 2012

Good point Vlada - another concern I have, coming on the back of the Estonia tiff, is that social media platforms will end up being the ONLY way of communicating and thus limited to the 60% of the world who have Internet access. The Hungarian blogosphere is rife with bewilderment today and thoughts of a 'bogus' list of demands are floating around. Had he stuck to the waning print media, I wonder would this have gained nearly as much traction in such a short period of time - or had the effect of the 1.7% drop in the Forint against the euro.
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Aldo Matteucci September 08, 2012

Mary said: "social media platforms will end up being the ONLY way of communicating and thus limited to the 60% of the world who have Internet access"...well Mary, before we make wild projections - let's look at the figures on the ground. I don't know (nor do I want to know) how many people participate in Orban's Facebook page, but I suspect it is a few thousand. Hungary over 8 million (if I rememember). Orban's comment would not have risen above the level for "background noise" but for regular media, which picked it up. So the real political exchange is not on Facebook, it is in the mainstream media. Facebook is just the detonator, or the stinkbomb (see my blog entry). We will not be communicating only by social media. The next question is that of anonymity. Secret ballots was introduced in US elections around 1880. Before one had to stand up and be heard voting. That's why Jefferson called for a Yeomen' Republic: he did not want the mortgage holder to know (and influence) the vote. If you take the comment on social network as some frorm of vote, you'd have to allow it being anonymous - including the rude motivation. BTW the old way was to have "round-robin letters"... Aldo
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Olaph Terribile (not verified) September 10, 2012

Mary, in my opinion social media platforms such as Facebook should not be used to send diplomatic signals. I believe that the message under discussion was targeted more for the local media, to be picked up and used for local consumption.
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Mary September 10, 2012

I agree, Olaph. Yet I think social media platforms will increasingly be used in diplomatic signalling.

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