Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Israel's tweet-o'hasbara

Israel has been dominating the news for the past two days and, obviously, that "domination" has not been positive at all. John Brown had several insightful pieces in his PDPB Review yesterday about the effect of the Free Gaza Flotilla issue on Israel's image in the world.

What I wanted to point out here was the Twitter "information campaign" organized by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As I first saw the news on Twitter Sunday night and started following the story, I tagged @IsraelMFA in some of the tweets... and got a reply! The interesting thing was that earlier, as the story got viral on the social networking sites, @IsraelMFA braced itself for the Twitter battle, tweeting every other minute or so within the last 48 hours. I've got to admit: they deserve credit for the intent and the attempt. I'm not quite sure about the consideration of the effectiveness of such a strategy, though.

Some of the weapons allegedly found on board of Mavi Marmara by the Israeli soldiers. Shared on Flickr by Israeli MFA.

In many ways it very much resembles the idea of the American Digital Outreach Team or Hugo Chavez' 200-strong "tweeter legion". Impressive, but lame. Given the flood of angry tweeters, though, responding to each and every single tweet with a pre-packaged piece of "enlightening information" is far from what Israeli MFA can handle: effectively, that is. Of course, there's always an enthusiastic team of volunteers - like the Jewish Internet Defense Force - to whom such efforts could be outsourced. The hope is - most probably - that together with the official statements on the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Israel's representations abroad, those will suffice in winning over support from the international community. Didn't really work out the way it was hoped to, apparently. Not yet, at least.

In short, Israel can spend hours on Twitter and YouTube (and the like), but then again, in public diplomacy actions speak louder than words, especially when the latter are limited to 140-character statements.

But then, as Morozov tweeted (this is ironic, I know): "I bet that Israel will crumble once the # of angry tweets reaches 1 trillion. Cuz tweets change history, didn't ya know?"

N.B. - Watch Mr. Erdoğan making an exception to his "zero-problems with neighbors" policy ("just" in this instance), and earning brownie points for his own PD effort. (To be continued...)



  1. So the main idea of this article is that ısraeli government uses tweeter?And you publish a Israeli governments propoganda photo here..
    so this means you are supporting the Israeli propoganda?

  2. I do not support Israeli propaganda - I just write about it. You would have been correct, had I just posted the photo without a comment (which notes that this is an ALLEGED find). And yes, the main idea of the post is that the MFA uses Twitter - I believe it's a good point worth noting, especially when the latter is used for such purposes.