U.S. Agency Makes Twitter-Like Service to Empower Cubans
April 3, 2014 5:20 PM
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 week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Science & Environment
February 20, 2017, 6:37 AM
The USA’s newest weather satellite sends first photos.
January 24, 2017, 6:41 AM
Netflix took a decision to invest in original content
January 19, 2017, 7:00 AM
Amazon Airborne Fulfillment Center – Your Merchandise Drop-Shipped from the Clouds
December 29, 2016, 5:00 AM
Amazon is experimenting with a new kind of grocery stores, Amazon Go
December 8, 2016, 5:00 AM
Google has developed Deep Learning Algorithm to detect Diabetic Eye Disease
December 4, 2016, 5:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
Samsung Galaxy S8, Rumored Launch Date!
March 18, 2017, 6:45 AM
Lenovo MIIX 510 – Excellent 2-In-One Tablet with Unique Watchband Hinge
March 17, 2017, 7:50 AM
Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming G1 – Intel Thunderbolt 3 Certified Motherboard
March 9, 2017, 6:25 AM
Xiaomi Mi Note 2 – This Chinese Phablet is the Best
February 24, 2017, 7:25 AM
Lenovo ThinkPad T460 - Ultra-Thin and Feather-light
March 3, 2017, 6:00 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Apple buys an automation app called Workflow. The deal was completed today and brings the app along with its developers.
Mar 23, 2017, 7:35 AM
Apple Announces new color for iPhones and iPads
Mar 22, 2017, 7:45 AM
Instagram: You Can Now Save Live Videos For Later
Mar 21, 2017, 7:49 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 to Get New Color Scheme
Mar 20, 2017, 7:45 AM
What else to worry about?
Mar 17, 2017, 6:45 AM
Icon of the Day: Intel/ NVIDIA or Mobileye
Mar 16, 2017, 6:15 AM
JUST IN - Twitter Hijacked : High-Profile Account Accesses
Mar 15, 2017, 7:07 AM
Mar 14, 2017, 7:30 AM
News and Tips
Mar 13, 2017, 6:30 AM
iPhone 8 – May Not Get Curved Screen
Mar 11, 2017, 8:00 AM
California paves way to self-driving car tests without humans
Mar 11, 2017, 7:18 AM
Smart Machines V hackers
Mar 10, 2017, 7:00 AM
Uber Can Resume Autonomous Car Testing in California
Mar 9, 2017, 6:50 AM
Mar 8, 2017, 7:09 AM
Mar 7, 2017, 8:45 AM
World news 3-6
Mar 6, 2017, 5:40 AM
Mar 4, 2017, 7:40 AM
Mixed News of the Day
Mar 4, 2017, 6:32 AM
Jaguar Land Rover invests in ride-sharing
Mar 3, 2017, 7:00 AM
Mixed News of The World:
Mar 2, 2017, 7:02 AM
World New 3-1
Mar 1, 2017, 6:30 AM
Gaming News of The Day
Feb 28, 2017, 6:56 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information