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E-diplomacy is the act of attempting to achieve diplomatic goals through the use of the Web, social media and communications technology in general. This concept emerged as a result of the rise of social media and the increased awareness of its power.
E-diplomacy has been able to flourish because new avenues of communication have extended the spheres of influence in which governments feel they need a presence. Whereas it was once easier for governments to control their message through broadcast media, social media can be even more powerful given its immediacy and viral nature. The problem, however, is that messages distributed via social media are more difficult to control.
Proponents argue that social media is allowing diplomats to see the big picture more clearly, leading to better understanding of situations based on different viewpoints. It also allows governments to have a more interactive conversation with multiple stakeholders, as opposed to the one-way communication system upon which governments have traditionally relied. The hope is that this transparency will result in better outcomes than the stereotypical "smoky back room" that is associated with diplomacy.
The State Department of the Unite States is a leader in the field of e-diplomacy. According to the BBC, as of July 2012, the State Department had more than 150 full-time employees dedicated to social media.