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© 2020 Jeffrey Robertson

The algorithm is digital diplomacy

Saturday, April 16, 2016


There's lots of research and commentary about digital diplomacy - who is in front, who is behind, who has invested more, etc. etc. But of all reading that I've found, none explains the real impact better than this article by the WSJ about the algorithm as an editor in the provision of news. Applied to diplomacy - it says a lot.

The article explains how social media companies are now able to decide what we see based on algorithms. The article notes "Four in 10 adults in America now get news from Facebook and one in 10 from Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center". This will only increase and it is also leading to a momentous change in how news reaches the audience.

As stated in the article: "Facebook has implemented algorithms that will determine who sees which Washington Post articles. Two people with very similar interests may get different news, depending on what Facebook’s servers believe is best for each reader". So the traditional approach of a news editor determining what is 'newsworthy' to the public has diminished. It is only 'newsworthy' to distinct individuals who are matched up to distinct set of criteria determined by their past viewing habits, purchases, demographic profiles, location, etc that the algorithm sets.

Applied to diplomacy this has a profound impact. Regardless of the message, regardless of the content, it is the algorithm that determines whether the audience sees it or not. The algorithm is digital diplomacy.

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