The Foreign Office is developing an increasing presence on Facebook – which is as it should be. Facebook is, after all, the third largest country in the world with 500 million inhabitants. Or it would be, if it were a country. You know what I mean.
The reason is pretty simple – we have a duty to get our information out as widely as possible to as many people as possible, which means, in part, pushing our advice and news into the information flows that people follow. For a great number of people, this means Facebook. For many, Facebook is a personal aggregator of news they want to hear – often from their friends, but also from news organisations and even, on occasion, governments. It’s a mix of personal updates, references to items of interest across the internet and reactions to events in the ‘real world’. And we feel we ought to be in there, passing information to users on, perhaps most pertinently on travel updates. The theory being that if you’re a traveller who access the net, one of the most likely places you’ll be keeping in touch with is your Facebook account.
It is, admittedly, a slightly odd relationship between individuals and government on a social media platform like this, and the tone of the exchanges can be a little awkward. But we won’t know if we don’t try, and we won’t really know how it works until we get some decent numbers. Those numbers remain pretty small at the moment, but we’re going to try a little harder to get this stuff distributed as widely as possible (feel free to sign up, to be honest, although the travel advice is called British Abroad, we don’t really mind if you’re British or not).
And it’s not the only option. You can keep in touch with the Foreign Office in Arabic well as English, listen out for news on specific campaigns and initiatives, and keep in touch with the work of your local embassy – check out the full list. There’s all kinds of content on there, but you may have opinions of your own as to what we should be posting there and even whether we should be there at all. Feel free to share your thoughts.