Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated in her final “Global Town Hall” video talk yesterday. Taking place in the Newsuem in Washington, DC, Secretary Clinton video chatted with college students around the world. The entire footage of the chat is now available on the State Department’s website.
The global chat was made possible by utilizing social media and IP video conferencing tools. Throughout the talk, Secretary Clinton took questions through Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter), emails, and IP Video Conferencing, a form of Internet phone technology, which allowed the Secretary to see the students as she heard and answered their questions in real time.
The global town hall chat was comprised of college students from India, Nigeria, England, Japan, Columbia, and Lebanon who asked Secretary Clinton questions ranging from international economics to how to maintain fledgling democracies.
On the topic of Internet technology and diplomacy, Secretary Clinton remarked that technology and communication is a big part of diplomacy. She said the State Department now uses social media and modern technology like Twitter and Facebook. Indeed, Secretary Clinton has made several statements over the years about the importance of the Internet when it comes to world relationships.
In particular, Secretary Clinton’s use of VoIP technology during her global town hall chat has huge implications for social media professionals and journalists everywhere. In one hour, the world leader was able to talk to 6 different countries and communicate with the world leaders of tomorrow. Her choice to hold these video chat symposiums are in agreement with her statement during the conference that, “There has to be a dialogue, and people are hungry for that; young people in particular. They deserve to have their views heard and acted on as we shape the world for the future.”
Social media platforms and improved communication technologies like IP Video conferencing keeps people in power and the people of the world in communication with each other in quick time.
In this particular instance, Secretary Clinton was able to field a wide range of diplomatic questions quickly and efficiently. Such fast open global conversation would not be possible without the use of VoIP and social media technologies.
Secretary Clinton was previously featured in Time Magazine’s Nov 7, 2011 article “Hillary Clinton and the Rise of Smart Power” about her use of “smart power”, or power that utilizes military strength as well as relationships and communication. As stated in that article, Secretary Clinton’s office requires that all foreign-service officers and appointed ambassadors are educated in social media. This is a fascinating fact that adds validity to the public’s general concern with the role of social media in global cross-cultural interaction. It also suggests that social media professionals hold an extremely important role in certain aspects of international politics.
As we have seen, social media has often been known to cause problems across cultural lines. Consider the ongoing debate over the accounts of the French Twitter users who have caused controversy with their anti-semitic tweets. This controversy has caused international trouble between parties advocating for complete freedom of speech and parties concerned with the consequences of prevalent hate speech in public forums. Hopefully, Secretary Clinton’s use of IP video technology will further open lines of communication between the leaders and citizens of the world, so that changes in world policy are settled more democratically.
The world changes quickly, and it needs communication technology like VoIP that can keep up. VoIP: connecting college students and world leaders one phone call at a time.