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Soft Power of Social Media, from Libya-US & UK to UN Where Bloggers Banned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 23 -- How could the UN and its Security Council be better covered and informed by social media? Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft this question on Septembe 23, not in the UN but a dozen blocks away at a Digital Diplomacy / “Soft Power” event by Facebook and Portland Communications. #Periscope video here.

   Rycroft told Inner City Press that the best Security Council meetings he's been in have allowed in outside voices; he noted it is still not the custom to tweet from inside consultations, though perhaps it should be.

  Inner City Press asked the US State Department's Moira Whelan about US Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones quitting Twitter back in March, after one of her tweets about bombing of the Tawerga was attacked. Whelan said the State Department wants to support its diplomats when they come under fire; Rycroft said if a diplomat's intentions were good and well-considered, they should be supported even if things go wrong.

   Facebook's Katie Harbath mentioned that India Prime Minister Modi would be meeting with Mark Zuckerberg; an hour later at the Indian delegation's press conference in the Waldorf Astoria's huge Empire room, there was confirmation of this and other tech meetings for Modi. (Inner City Press asked about UN Peacekeeping, whose chief Herve Ladsous recently linked UN rapes to “R&R” on video, here.)

  There was talk of the UN and social media; from Inner City Press' and the new Free UN Coalition for Access' perspective, the UN itself far too infrequently responds and engages, and much of the corporate press corps resents new media coverage of the UN, for example with the old UN Correspondents Association's Valeria Robecco saying multimedia is NOT a photographer to block coverage of the Pope's visit, click here for that. But we will continue: watch this site.


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