Is there a point to meme-diplomacy? BlueDot’s Moira Whelan weighs in.

by Lars Anderson  featuring Moira Whelan

This excerpt is from a piece written by The Observer’s Jack Crosbie, featuring BlueDot founding partner Moira Whelan.

This week Iran issued a longstanding threat against Israel in an unexpected way: via tweet. What happened next is a use case in meme-diplomacy. Israel tweeted back. More surprising, the government tweeted back not with an official statement but with a GIF from the movie Mean Girls.

Social media lit up and the media took notice.

One journalist who set out to explore the questions raised by this viral instance of “digital diplomacy” was Jack Crosbie at Observer. His question, “what’s the point of meme-diplomacy?” For answers, he turned to BlueDot Strategies’ founding partner Moira Whelan, an expert in the areas of international engagement and technology and policy:

“It’s less to do with getting likes and retweets, and more about engaging the public in a way that makes diplomacy more successful,” Moira Whelan, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of State for Digital Strategy during the Obama administration, told Observer. “There are audiences on social media that aren’t watching broadcast news anymore, and you need to do things that will make you relevant to the conversation.” Whelan said that over the past few years, traditionally “buttoned up” organizations have started to deploy more humor.

Read Jack Crosse’s article in its entirety at