Digital diplomacy is the use of internet resources for the fulfillment of foreign relations on trade issues, communication, media, negotiation, culture and functions (Manor, 2012). ICT as a diplomacy tool supports embassy functions, activities and strategies. A comparative analysis of the Swedish, Maldives, US and Israel embassy modes reveals the use of benefits and risks. The cyberspace has a purpose of promoting meaningful international interactions between countries, organizations and individual parties.
Swedish virtual embassy
Known as the first country to open an embassy in Second Life, Sweden has an open embassy that promotes its interests across the globe. Using a nation building strategy, Sweden’s digital communication uses its virtual embassy system for branding and marketing functions. The plan incorporates its traditional and global topics of interests (Cucos, 2012). Visitors find information about visa regulations, culture and national history. Administered under the Swedish Institute, the embassy is open to collaboration. Targeting young people, the embassy has been in existence since 2003.With over 3 million users; the cyber building replicates the Washington Swedish embassy which is open for chats with visitors. Closed in 2013 for various reasons, the model serves as an example for others
US Virtual Embassy
The US Virtual embassy approach promotes dialogue between the US and its Iranian relations. Its model of public clouding solutions caters for citizens, creativity, and collaboration. Its infrastructural design features flexibility and a public cloud with numerous networks opened to different links. Through its systems it provides tourist information, educational opportunities, social media communication and embassy contacts. Notable is its diplomatic relations with Iran which has been out of the US limelight for years (Metzger, 2012). The American engagement with Iran is an example of a security strategy to protect the US citizens. Used to send alerts the interactive website is a platform for open communication. It also supports international students travelling to the regions.
Israel virtual embassy model
Located on Twitter Israel’s virtual model provides IT solution to diplomatic relations in the gulf region. Launched in 2013, Israel continues to gain followers on Twitter through tweets. Deviating from using Second Life as a platform, Israel prefers social media for its viral effect. Twitter is an official link preferred by professionals, reporters, news agencies and it is offers flexibility. Its authentication strategy of engaging followers rather than publishing content takes advantage of the widespread use of social media in the region. This model proved successful in forming bilateral ties with non-allies in the gulf (Manor, 2018). This initiated dialogue with citizens from Qatar, UAE, Oman, Saudi, Kuwait and Bahrain
Maldives virtual embassy model
The Maldives virtual embassy system was also launched on the Second Life platform. Unlike Sweden’s plan, this model was a replica of the Maldives real world. A popular tourist destination, it shows beautiful sceneries. Used as a point of contact with the international world, this model serves as a public relations link. This online space captured diplomatic initiatives, meaningful relations and trade issues. Developed as an outreach tool, the virtual channel connects the country with its partners (Arnold, 2012).
Although countries engage people in the virtual system, this does not last long because of the dynamic user preferences on internet activities. Unlike traditional media digital platform provides an avenue for content manipulation, credible news confirmations and nonphysical communication.
Arnold, IV, W, E., 2012. Tax Enforcement in Virtual Worlds-Virtually Impossible. Syracuse, J. Intl. & Com, 40, p. 187
Cucos, R., 2012. Virtual diplomacy-a new way of conducting international affairs? The World Bank, Available at <https://blogs.worldbank.org/ic4d/virtual-diplomacy-a-new-way-of-conducting-international-affairs>
Manor, I., 2018. Why are digital diplomacy initiatives short-lived? Exploring Digital Diplomacy, Available at<https://digdipblog.com/2018/05/28/why-are-digital-diplomacy-initiatives-short-lived/
Metzger, E, T., 2012. Is it the medium or the message? Social media, American public diplomacy & Iran, Global Media Journal, Available at<https://ir.usembassy.gov/visas/nonimmigrant-visas/