The State Department is the world’s largest user of web information and communication technologies for diplomatic objectives, according to a recent study from the Australian-based Lowy Institute for International Policy.
The Sate Department has more than 150 full-time personnel implementing what the study calls e-diplomacy tools in programs such as Corridor social media network and internal Diplopedia wiki, Federal Computer Week reports.
The government agency has previously embarked on programs such as virtual embassies in Iran.
In February, experts indicated the State Department could potentially interact with Syrian activists and citizens on Twitter and Facebook despite closing the U.S. embassy in Damascus.
Other foreign ministries are not using e-diplomacy to the same degree as the U.S., according to Fergus Hanson, author of the Lowy Institute’s report.
Hanson, also a visiting fellow in e-diplomacy, wrotethat globalization of e-diplomacy is moving at a slow pace because foreign ministries are unclear about the definition of e-diplomacy.
Applications are also evolving, he wrote.
Hanson researched the State Department’s e-diplomacy practices on a four-month grant, where he found 35 separate e-diplomacy nodes with 150 full-time staff at the agency’s headquarters.
He cited a separate report that found another 935 overseas staff are employing e-diplomacy tools such as wikis, blogs and social networks to some extent, roughly equal to 175 full-time personnel.
The U.S. is uses e-diplomacy for eight missions such as public diplomacy, policy planning, Internet freedom, disaster response and consular communications.