ShareAmerica

Described by the Washington Post as “the U.S. State Department’s Upworthy clone,” ShareAmerica is a website allowing people to easily share viral pro-American content on social media.  The site certainly has a feel like Upworthy or other social media feel good sites.  The articles usually have a short write-up along with accompanying video and have easy options for sharing on Facebook and Twitter.  There are different categories of content, or “themes,” as the site calls them ranging from visa information to human rights.

On Facebook, the ShareAmerica has a little of 11,000 likes, which questions the overall reach of the program.  Additionally, as we discussed in class, what is the purpose of this site.  Is it to actually win hearts and minds, or is it to just push out pro-American propaganda regardless of the overall message.  In other words, what how will State define success of the program?  Number of likes and shares, or effectiveness of the messaging in the content?  Guess we’ll have to wait and see….

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6 thoughts on “ShareAmerica

  1. I also wonder about how “success” will be measured. Who will share this content, and for what purpose? Will people think that they will curry favor with the U.S. government by sharing content? Will people share content but make mocking comments? A purely quantitative analysis of the “spreadability” (Jenkins, Ford, and Green 2013) of the media would not deliver insights into the types of uses of this content. Of course, there is most likely someone working on an algorithm to measure both the motivation behind actions (based on personal networks and/or recent applications for a green card, etc.) as well as the pallor of comments. Perhaps this algorithm already exists, but if it does, I would guess it rests in the hands of the private sector, developed for marketing purposes, as opposed to the public sector, although I could easily be wrong.

    Jenkins, Henry, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green. 2013. Spreadable Media, Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. NYU Press.

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  2. I find it interesting how our perception change depending on the country. For example, Yuyang wrote a piece on China’s public diplomacy efforts and concluded that they were “nice but not helpful.” I personally thought it was a strong effort on China’s part to spend a considerable amount of capital on public diplomacy efforts. However, when it comes to America, I am much more hesitant because I am afraid of how other countries might perceive these efforts, considering America’s reputation as the “hegemon superpower.” I, too, wonder if other countries are viewing these efforts as a pro-American propaganda, simply trying to reinforce our influence over the rest of the world, which, in turn, could fuel resentment rather than win hearts. My point is, why is it that I see America’s public diplomacy efforts as overreaching, while I see China’s efforts as ambitious? I think the answer has to do with power. It seems America is much more powerful than most countries and therefore its public diplomacy efforts are viewed as an extension of this power. Meanwhile less powerful countries are viewed as ambitious and forthcoming because they are trying to gain power through public diplomacy rather than displaying their current power.

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  3. I just posted another comment on Fiona’s page in regards to Share America and its outreach. You make a very similar criticism as Fiona does in regards to social media (I see the Facebook Likes being a total of 12,070) as well as the propaganda angle of how the information is being presented.

    As I mentioned on her post, this can be attributed to how the information is presented as many of the articles are in the interests of the state department, and focus issues coming from foreign nations outside of the US.

    In order for Share America to reach a broader audience, especially on social media, they need to allow a more international perspective on what they think of US and its policy. Giving an open forum for persons across the globe would be ideal. Simply giving information to web users without their opinion will only go so far. I do see a few articles mentioning certain American accomplishments happening on a certain day (such as Arnold Schwarzeneggar becoming a Governor), but the stories themselves are mixed in together by date, with little regard to their theme. The web page itself isn’t terribly hard to understand, but the information and set up does come off as monotonous.

    Hopefully improvements will be made so audiences feel they have direct input in what’s being written and how they can react to it.

    – Allan R.

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  4. Spencer, I also wrote my blog post on Share America. Though I have my doubts about the site, theoretically I understand how the State Dept. thought this would work. My recommendations for this website like I stated in my blog post (http://icamalgam.blogspot.com/2014/12/meet-share-america-one-way.html) is to provide an avenue for American Citizens , International Students and foreign nationals to share stories about American values and their experiences.

    I also want to know the main purpose for this site. Did the creators conduct audience research to gauge the direction of this site?

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  5. Well, I definetly noticed the Upworthy template. Looking at the website however, I’m a fan of ShareAmerica. The remarkable similarities to think Upworthy, Buzzfeed and Elite Daily make it very user- friendly and show a brighter side of America(creativity, ingenuity, etc.) I certainly don’t have the answers to make ShareAmerica great, but the concept looks promising and certainly can be built upon. Perhaps tey should tailor their message more effectively around a theme. More Facebook likes would be awesome but that doesn’t speak to its efficacy but rather an outreach strategy. The digital divide is wide around the world so State should consider methods to market their website and make it accessible to a broader international audience.

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  6. The purpose of this initiative is what really confuses me. By posting pro-American content in a Buzzfeed/Upworthy style, are they hoping that a pro-American post will go viral? It doesn’t seem like the folks over at the State Department understand how social media works! Considering this site and their laughable Twitter war with ISIS, I think the State Department needs to back away from the computers and hire someone who actually understands how social media works.

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