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Role of Social Media as a Soft Power Tool in Raising Public Awareness and Engagement in Addressing Climate Change.
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Climate change has been one of the most debated topics in the past few decades, but a number of challenges have hindered the development of robust policies and strategies by nations. At the same time, social media platforms—such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook—have given the opportunity for the general public to share opinions and engage with the issue of climate change like never before. This phenomenon is considered to be a new form of soft power which can provide input into the discussion and possibly affect the current international political mechanisms. The present paper aims to (1) define the forms and characteristics of social media as a soft power method, (2) analyze its influence on the awareness of societies, and (3) assess if increased public awareness could influence the official political and policy processes. In order to assess if social media has influence on people′s relative awareness, we have focused on analyzing the links between a few highly visible climate change related events and the trends in people′s searches on the Internet in connection to those events. The study finds that even though it is difficult to assess the effects of social media as a soft power tool with certainty, there are visible links between social media and changing public perceptions, with the possibility of public opinion influencing political decision-making.
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