“BIDD Theme this week” US government harassed Castro with a fake Twitter service

“BIDD  Theme this week”  US government harassed Castro with a fake Twitter service

Federal aid agency wanted to ‘renegotiate the balance of power between state and society’ in Havana By Amar Toor on April 3, 2014 04:59 am Email @amartoo 105Comments 18 inShare The US government covertly created a Twitter-like text messaging service aimed at fueling political unrest in Cuba and evading the communist nation’s strict internet filters,

Federal aid agency wanted to ‘renegotiate the balance of power between state and society’ in Havana

By Amar Toor on Email @amartoo 105Comments

18
inShare

The US government covertly created a Twitter-like text messaging service aimed at fueling political unrest in Cuba and evading the communist nation’s strict internet filters, according to an investigative report published today by the Associated Press. The ZunZuneo program — named after the slang term for the song of a Cuban hummingbird — was financed and operated by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which is charged with delivering humanitarian aid money to poor nations.

The idea was to build up a large social network through targeted text message blasts, allowing Cubans to communicate with one another free of charge and beyond the reach of the country’s tightly regulated internet, while enabling US officials to feed them information from the outside world. Using a list of phone numbers obtained from a worker at Cubacel, Cuba’s state-owned telecommunications company, USAID and its team of contractors began by blasting out texts about “non-controversial content” like soccer and music. Once ZunZuneo’s network reached a critical mass, they would begin sending out more politically charged texts, in the hopes that they would spark demonstrations against the regime of Raúl Castro and “renegotiate the balance of power between state and society,” as one USAID document reads.

“There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement.”

ZunZuneo abruptly disappeared in mid-2012, when USAID says the project ran out of funding, but at its peak it had more than 40,000 subscribers — mostly young Cubans whom officials considered the most likely to pursue political change. The agency used a network of shell companies under a Cayman Islands bank account to cover its tracks and evade Cuban intelligence, and used fake banner ads to make it seem like a legitimate business. USAID also used targeted text message polls to gather intelligence on ZunZuneo users.

“There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement,” reads a 2010 memo from Mobile Accord, one of ZunZuneo’s contractors, which was obtained by the AP. “This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the mission.”

US law requires presidential authorization for any covert federal operation, though USAID declined to say whether the Obama administration was aware of ZunZuneo. US-Cuba relations have improved since Raúl Castro took over for his ailing brother Fidel in 2008. The island nation has implemented market-based reforms in recent years, and the Obama administration lifted some travel bans and spending regulations in 2011. But the longstanding US economic embargo remains very much in place, and Cuba continues to impose some of the world’s strictest regulations on domestic internet use.

An archived screenshot of the now-defunct ZunZuneo website.

USAID ultimately sought to distance itself from the project, fearing that it would be exposed as a government initiative, and reportedly asked Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey for funding. Dorsey met with a State Department official, records show, though he declined to comment to the AP.

US reportedly tapped Jack Dorsey for funding

Eventually, the program proved unsustainable, as USAID and its contractors continued to pay steep texting fees while running the risk of being exposed. And despite the operation’s questionable legality, USAID says its Cuba programs are within both the law and its humanitarian mission.

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,” USAID spokesman Matt Herrick told the AP. “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.”

Aaron Souppouris contributed to this report.

http://www.theverge.com/2014/4/3/5577254/us-created-cuban-twitter-to-fuel-anti-castro-dissidence-ap

 

Please follow and like us:

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

RSS BIDD

  • Time-off from non-existent PD 26th March 2019
    Image from I have come to the sad conclusion that "public diplomacy" has no meaning for the current White House opera obscura, if not for the American public. As you know, the USA State Department currently doesn't even have a Public Diplomacy official. So, focusing as I have on my modest blog re my beloved […]
  • Pet najboljih načina da prepoznate bota na Tviteru 25th March 2019
    Takmičenje velikog broja sistema u detekciji botova na Tviteru, koje je pokrenula Agencija za razvoj naprednih istraživačkih projekata, uspelo je da ukaže na ključne kriterijume za prepoznavanje lažnih naloga. Učesnici takmičenja opremili su svoje sisteme tako da identifikuju lažne naloge koristeći pet glavnih tačaka pri obradi podataka. Sistemi koje su dobili kao rezultat daleko su […]

RSS Diplo Portal Belgrade

  • Élections européennes 2019 26th March 2019
    Les élections européennes auront lieu à Belgrade le 26 mai 2019. - Elections / Source : La France en Serbie (https://rs.ambafrance.org) The post Élections européennes 2019 appeared first on Diplomatic portal.
  • Промоција књиге „Помоћ Руса и Русије Србима и Србији“ одржана у Руском дому 26th March 2019
    У Мермерној сали Руског дома 25. марта је одржана презентација књиге „Помоћ Руса и Русије Србима и Србији“ аутора Митра Радоњића уз подршку друштва „Русија“ из Новог Сада, чији је он члан. Поред аутора на промоцији су говорили и председник друштва сународника „Русија“ Маријана Младеновић, члан Градског одбора Новог Сада Бранко Паравиња и професор Филозофског […]

Catalog of Destroyed and Desecrated Churches in Kosovo ( VIDEO )

Most Viewed Posts

  • Twitter Suspends Hamas Accounts
    By ROBERT MACKEYLast Updated, Sunday, Jan. 19 | Several Twitter accounts used by the military wing of Hamas have been suspended by the social network in recent days, angering the Islamist militants and delighting Israel’s military. #Twitter has suspended the official account of #Hamas, a terrorist group that uses social media to threaten #Israel http://t.co/g1UxKc9fpf
  • Brain drain in Serbia today
    How does the Serbian government cope with the problem of brain drain today? The latest OECD publication, SOPEMI 2014 shows that 39 thousand persons emigrated in 2012 from Serbia to OECD countries only. (At the beginning of the global economic and financial crisis, the emigration from Serbia to OECD countries amounted to 27,000 in 2008.)

How Belgrade based diplomats use Digital Diplomacy and Internet 2016

Diplo Portal Belgrade

Please follow and like us:
Scroll Up
WP Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)