A National Government Model for Influencing and Relationship Building

The censorship of social media and oppression of citizens practiced by many governments, as described in the previous section, is based on fear as much as anything else. Fighting crime on the Internet and securing a nation from terrorism is certainly a government’s responsibility, but quashing the free exchange of ideas and speech is the work of plain, old, nasty totalitarianism. Governments that practice such behavior and social media tactics do not serve all the people of their nation; they focus on maintaining a social order designed only to serve the elite and powerful at the expense of basic freedoms.

Not all nations take such an approach. The United States has a history of discrimination and oppression of minorities and is still far from perfect in terms of human rights. But it has a very open society and a culture of free speech and exchange of ideas and beliefs. That, of course, comes with a price, and the conservative elite still strives to dictate morals and discriminates against minorities.

Despite the desire of conservative elites to dominate thought and action, the U.S. federal government allows and supports more freedoms than many other countries do, and it has taken a considerably different approach to social media warfare. In terms of social media strategy, the federal government supports and maintains a critical mass of positive, peaceful social media practices tactics:

  • ? Self-validation, to communicate to the world the feeling of and belief in the validity and legitimacy of a freer society. It continues to reinforce to its citizens and allies that it is in the right and has a strong commitment to the cause of freedom.
  • ? Social media practices are designed to influence aligned governments to adopt the same positions and use the same or similar rhetoric that they, as a coalition, are all doing the right thing by supporting similar causes or actions.
  • ? Alliance partners are reinforced and supported when they support common positions and actions. This helps to support the belief, on the part of both aligned entities as well as non-aligned entities, that all alliance partners are working in conjunction with each other toward the same goal.
  • ? Persuasion of non-aligned entities of the validity and legitimacy of the U.S. position or actions is ongoing. This helps draw governments into a global coalition, or at least helps to convince non-aligned governments not to oppose a position or action.
  • ? Recruitment of nations and individuals into a coalition of beliefs and actions is also ongoing; as is the indoctrination, or more softly called, education, into a belief systems and structure. This helps to keep new recruits supporting the cause- related doctrine and the process and tools through which goals and objectives are being pursued.

? The relationship-building process of establishing and nurturing cooperative efforts with like-minded people or organizations is also ongoing. The relationship-building process is never-ending and does present some challenges as social and economic conditions change or evolve. Social media warfare is one element in an arsenal of tools used to maintain and perpetuate those relationships.

The U.S. federal government has enviable social media enterprises, which surpass those of virtually all entities of any type in the world. The Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) in the Technology Transformation Service of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) plays a leading role in expanding and promoting the use of social media applications by government agencies [8]. The mission of the organization is to

  • ? Find and share social media and digital government resources and capabilities with agencies or government entities throughout the country.
  • ? Help agencies understand and resolve social media and digital government policy issues.
  • ? Offer services and tools to help agencies meet digital government goals.
  • ? Champion DigitalGov solutions.
  • ? Promote agency DigitalGov efforts.
  • ? Build relationships with the private and non-profit sectors as well as state and local governments to spread the adoption of digital government methods [8].

The U.S. federal government is pursuing a comprehensive digital government strategy built upon four overarching principles:

  • ? An information-centric approach that manages discrete pieces of open data and content, which can be tagged, shared, secured, mashed up, and presented in a way that is most useful for the consumer of that information.
  • ? A shared platform approach to reduce costs and improve portability of data and content, both within and across agencies, help apply consistent standards, and ensure consistency in how information is created and delivered.
  • ? A customer-centric approach to how the government creates, manages, and presents data through websites, mobile applications, raw data sets, and other modes of delivery, and allows customers to shape, share and consume information, whenever and however they want it.
  • ? A platform of security and privacy that helps to ensure innovation happens in a way that ensures the secure delivery and use of digital services to protect information and privacy [9].

The U.S. federal government also has taken the critical precaution of providing the means for users to confirm the validity of official U.S. government digital platforms. One key step in building a digital government is to assure citizens that they can trust the application used for official engagement and that it is being managed by a legitimate agency and not an unofficial source, phishing scam, or malicious entity. The U.S. Digital Registry serves as the authoritative resource for agencies, citizens, and developers to confirm the official status of social media and public-facing collaboration accounts, mobile apps, and mobile websites. Information in the registry includes the agency, platform, account, language, points of contact, and collaborative tags for each social media application [10].

There are more than 80 social media applications that currently have amended terms of service for official U.S. government use, including Facebook, Flickr, GitHub, Google+, IdeaScale, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Scribd, SlideShare, Socrata, Storify, Tumblr, Twitter, UserVoice, Ustream, and YouTube [10].

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