It seems like the US may have tapped into the subversive power of social media as it sought to stir dissent against Cuba’s communist government with the creation of a “Cuban Twitter,” the Associated Press reports.
The project dubbed “ZunZuneo,” which began in 2009 and lasted more than two years, attracted tens of thousands of users. The plan was to build up a critical mass of mostly young Cuban people on the social network, which could then lead to “smart mobs” — mass gatherings that are organized in a moment’s notice — that could rise up against the government, according to the AP.
In fact, the AP reports that Suzanne Hall, then a State Department official working on Hilary Clinton’s social media efforts, even helped to lead an attempt to gain funding from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. Update: The AP has changed its text since original publication. As the original version of our report stated, the AP had first said that Dorsey was asked to “take over”, not fund, the project.
The social network was reportedly created with secret shell companies and financed through foreign banks — so users were entirely unaware of any US links, nor that American contractors were gathering personal data about them. AP notes that it isn’t clear if such a covert action was legal under US law, and that officials at the US Agency for International Development would not say who had approved the program or whether the White House was aware of it.
➤ US Secretly Built ‘Cuban Twitter’ To Stir Unrest [Associated Press]
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