Global Communication, public diplomacy, Social Media

@Sweden: Connecting Citizens through a National Voice

In a progressive initiative by the Swedish government, a Twitter account is now unifying citizens of all ages and circumstances through social media. @Sweden is a government experiment that entrusts the country’s Twitter account to a new citizen of the country each week. According to the ABC News blog, the designated tweeters are chosen by the “three brains behind the idea: the Swedish Institute, a government agency, Sweden’s official tourism website VisitSweden, and a Swedish communications firm called Volontaire.”

@Sweden features a new tweeter every week.

Though the national Twitter account was incepted in 2009, this endeavor was intended to revamp its purpose. The concept behind @Sweden is to promote a unique and diverse image of the country. Philip Alqwist, a creative director at Volontaire, told ABC News that the correlation between Sweden, one of the most democratic countries in the world, and Twitter, one of the most democratic tools in the world, presented an ideal outlet through which the Swedish brand could be exemplified.

Further contributing to the account’s uniqueness is the fact that @Sweden is completely uncensored, fulfilling its role both as an instrument of free speech and as a true depiction of the Swedish population. The “soft suggestions” according to the New York Times are that people not do anything criminal and that they label political views as their own. Although the lack of censorship subjects the account to typos and sometimes seemingly outlandish statements for a nation’s official social media forum, citizens who tweet for @Sweden are encouraged to be themselves. There is not one typical citizen of Sweden, so there shouldn’t be only one voice.

The account is mostly uncensored by the Swedish government.

The Swedish project, which began in December of 2011, has already ignited a movement. After the launch of the “new” @Sweden account, @PeopleofLeeds, @WeAreAustralia and @TweetWeekUSA were each created, followed shortly by @CuratorsMexico and @BasquesAbroad. If projects such as these continue to flourish through social media and other outlets, it will be interesting to see whether they have the ability to stimulate international discourse a provoke further interests in the affairs of outside nations.

The @Sweden experiment typifies yet another instance of how social media has the ability to spark social change. As Nelson Bonner, founder of @TweetWeekUSA, @TweetWeekNYC and the Rotation Curation website said of his and similar undertakings in an interview with ABC, “Where I see this going is literally a revolution for world communications…What I wanted to do is to open a dialogue between people in the US about what’s going on in their country, and in the world.”

@Sweden embodies an endearing form of social media–a kind of civilian diplomacy–where, rather than having a state’s officials or diplomats interact with citizens, the country’s people act as the voice. It is not only the cornerstone of what may be a profound international social movement, but it also allows for a new form of insight into countries and their citizens, flaws and all…

Read more about the Swedish social media experiment at About – Curators of Sweden.

About Lindsey Horan

Lindsey Horan is a Global Communications M.A. candidate in the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, with a concentration in public diplomacy. Her academic and professional interests include international mass communications and human rights issues.

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