U.S. Agency Makes Twitter-Like Service to Empower Cubans
April 3, 2014 5:20 PM
comment(s) - last by
USAID was hoping it would spark demonstrations
A U.S. agency reportedly created a Twitter-like service for residents in Cuba in an effort to empower them, but it's not clear if this initiative was ever approved by the Obama administration.
According to the
, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) created the ZunZuneo program, which aimed to create a large social network through targeted text messaging. This allowed Cubans to communicate with one another for free -- and beyond the country's tightly-regulated Internet.
At the same time, the Twitter-like service allowed U.S. officials to send Cubans information from the outside world. At first, only texts about sports and music would be sent. But as the network grew larger, USAID sent more political texts in hopes of users rebeling against the regime of Raúl Castro.
USAID also used targeted text message polls to gather intelligence on its ZunZuneo users.
The desired result was for the Cuban people to push back and "renegotiate the balance of power between state and society."
The U.S. kept its involvement a secret, using a network of "shell" companies under a Cayman Islands bank account and even utilizing fake banner ads to make it seem like a legitimate business.
However, in 2012, USAID started removing itself from the ZunZuneo program as text messaging fees started becoming too steep and USAID worried about being exposed by the Cuban government.
USAID even reportedly asked Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey for funding, and he did meet with a State Department official.
But one of the biggest questions is whether or not USAID received presidential authorization to launch this program. USAID has declined to say whether or not the Obama administration had any idea about ZunZuneo.
"USAID is a development agency, not an intelligence agency, and we work all over the world to help people exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms, and give them access to tools to improve their lives and connect with the outside world," said USAID spokesman Matt Herrick. "In the implementation, has the government taken steps to be discreet in non-permissive environments? Of course. That's how you protect the practitioners and the public. In hostile environments, we often take steps to protect the partners we're working with on the ground. This is not unique to Cuba."
USAID did manage to build quite a network though, reaching 40,000 users at its peak.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: How is this fake?
4/3/2014 7:00:02 PM
So we have the real Twitter here in American, and we still don't use it, or any other tools at our disposal to overthrow our corrupt government. Not even when they are caught violating our rights, raping us on medical expenses, using our tax dollars to do so, and then throwing us in jail to get raped some more.
What makes anyone think Cuba will do what we wont?
"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
Microsoft Expands Free Office 365 to All College Students
September 22, 2014, 3:21 PM
Apple Adds New Password Protection for Third Party iCloud Apps
September 17, 2014, 8:50 PM
Facebook Tests Moments App, Aims to Keep Your Private Memories Private
September 17, 2014, 5:46 PM
Russian Hackers Compile List of 10+ Million Stolen Gmail, Yandex, Mailru
September 11, 2014, 11:41 AM
House Minority Leader Pelosi Criticizes FCC's "Fast-Lane" Net Neutrality Plan
September 9, 2014, 4:15 PM
Smarter Than Siri? Cortana Adds Game NFL Game Winner Prediction
September 3, 2014, 4:12 PM
Most Popular Articles
HTC Preps Nexus 9 With Nvidia K1 64-Bit "Denver" SoC, Android L Onboard
September 10, 2014, 10:21 PM
Apple iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus Reviews Roll In
September 16, 2014, 9:13 PM
Big Media: If You Want Privacy, You're Probably a Pirate
September 18, 2014, 2:57 PM
Apple Cripples NFC in iPhone 6, 6+ With Developer Ban
September 17, 2014, 1:00 PM
"Decepticon" Driver Triumphs Over Cops in Massachusetts Court
September 5, 2014, 12:07 PM
Latest Blog Posts
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information