Taking down Cuba one tweet at a time! New reports reveal that the US government masterminded the creation of a Cuban Twitter designed to stir up unrest and undermine the communist government in Cuba.
Using front companies with a Cayman Islands bank account, the U.S. Agency for International Development created a social-media project (Cuban Twitter) that starting in 2010 aimed at turning Cubans against Cuba, Arab Spring style. This was the plan:
Step 1: Lure them in with free information.
At first, the US used “non-controversial content” like news on soccer and music via text messaging to get around Cuba’s Internet restrictions and quench Cubans’ thirst for information on the isolated island. ZunZuneo, dubbed the “Cuban Twitter”, had 40,000 subscribers at its height in a country with limited web access.
Step 2: Collect their data.
While Cubans were enjoying their weather updates and sports reports, the U.S. government and its contractors were snatching up their private data to use it for political purposes.
Step 3: Destroy Communism.
US officials then planned to introduce political messages to spur the network’s users into dissent from their communist-run government. The only problem? The program ran out of funding in 2012 before they could get to that part of the plan. Another successful government run program!
The White House has confirmed that the US government aid agency was behind the text-message service that was allegedly designed to turn Cuba into a capitalist haven, but denies that the program was on the down low.
“It was debated in Congress. It was reviewed by the [Government Accountability Office]. Those sorts of things do not happen to covert programs,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, adding that it was still necessary for USAid to be “discreet”.
Well, they probably should have kept the “development assistance” scheme a little more discreet, given its failure to make it to step 3 – the most important step! How embarrassing.