A Video Tweeted by Pompeo Was Authentic. His Description of It Was Wrong.


“Twitter has become a premier forum for international and foreign relations, where world leaders are subtweeting about impending war,” she added.

As soon as the news of the airstrike was confirmed, foreign leaders took to Twitter to post their reactions. Mr. Pompeo’s tweet — sent six hours after the killing — appears to have been a great success.

Almost 24 hours after his tweet was first posted, it has been retweeted more than 53,000 times, re-shared by hundreds of accounts in multiple languages, including The United States’ State Department’s Farsi Twitter account. The video in the tweet has been viewed almost five million times.

In all, the tweet has been liked and shared more than 30,000 times across Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, according to Crowdtangle, a social analytics tool owned by Facebook. On YouTube, the video was shared by individuals and organizations, including RT, Russia’s state-sponsored news outlet.

“When we think about government communication, it’s public diplomacy in peacetime, propaganda in wartime,” said Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor of communication at Syracuse University who studies propaganda and is a state media expert. “Official sources can propagate a narrative they seek without context.”

That is occurring, they said, because of the breakdown of gatekeeping, a role that the news media had typically played. That breakdown is something President Trump and his supporters have fostered in regularly dismissing fair and factual reporting. Now, governments, the platforms and ordinary citizens all participate in public diplomacy and propaganda.

This puts the onus on individuals to be more discerning about the source of the information they consume, a need that is often overlooked in highly emotional, partisan times, experts said.





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