Social media is a powerful tool deployed by international organizations active in the West Bank and across the Middle East. Donor organizations such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department for International Development (DFID) use social media to spread awareness of the programs they fund and support.
Advancing developing countries is obviously the primary objective of international donor organizations and the countries which provide their funding. Enhancing the image of said donor countries, however, is also of utmost importance. For USAID for example, shifting the perception of the United States in the Middle East is a political and strategic objective. Social media greatly facilitates this process; the construction of a road in an isolated village in the West Bank is heavily marketed via USAID’s social media channels, primarily Facebook and Twitter. Through personal experience in the West Bank, I have seen firsthand the effect social media has had on the public’s perception of the United States and USAID. The prevalence of projects with tangible impact that are constantly paraded on social media help to foster a reputation for USAID and DFID as organizations which actually deliver.
Photographs are deeply emphasized by the leadership of international organizations operating in the West Bank. The vibrant, lively images of children at a new school constructed by an international organization, or of farmers showcasing their produce, are invaluable in humanizing the efforts of foreign countries to help develop the West Bank economy. Photographs are distributed via social media channels and contribute to raising awareness of the programs implemented in a way that supersedes any other medium.