Facebook Not Statebook: Defining SNS Diplomacy with Four Modes of Online Diplomatic Participation

Q. Elyse Huang


Researchers have yet to bring definitional clarity to public diplomacy in the digital context. It is unclear whether digital diplomacy, an all-encompassing concept, always happens in the public domain. For social-networking-service (SNS) assisted public diplomacy engagements, I hereby propose “SNS diplomacy” as a new conceptual container. In SNS diplomacy, public participation is an essential component, which I conceptualize as online diplomatic participation. This article summarizes four modes of participation: expression, interaction, membership, and campaign, a framework built on online political participation research. The concept focuses on the flow of dialogue and action between diplomatic and individual actors, to which social platforms offer indispensable support. Voters may participate in domestic politics offline, but most individual actors can influence diplomatic actors only online. I argue that individuals’ online participation is significant in the diplomatic scene and that scholars should look beyond the number of retweets and comments when evaluating such behaviors and resultant impacts.


SNS diplomacy, public diplomacy, digital diplomacy, online political participation, social media

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