Why try to influence politicians when you can influence the very people that allow a government to exist? According to a new report, that’s exactly what the U.S. government did.
While a lot of the government has yet to catch up to technology, military and intelligence has to stunning effect.
According to The Associated Press, the U.S. government created a fake social network geared towards Cuba citizens, and designed to help erode the country’s communist regime.
“The project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba’s stranglehold on the Internet with a primitive social media platform. First, the network would build a Cuban audience, mostly young people; then, the plan was to push them toward dissent.”
Thanks to financing through foreign banks, and built by fake companies made to look and sound real on paper, users never suspected anything wrong.
Such an initiative would require approval from the President and congressional notification, however, USAID declined to comment on if the President was made aware, questioning its legality.
The U.S. Agency for International Development allegedly went to great lengths to hide any government ties to the social network, and even recruited the help of CEOs who had no idea they were working on a secret project.
“There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement,” according to a 2010 memo from Mobile Accord Inc., one of the project’s creators. “This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the Mission.”
Called “ZunZuneo” after a slang term for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet, it launched in 2009, and AP reports it gained nearly 40,000 users.
Out of the over 1,000 documents reportedly obtained relating to the project, it appears Cuba officials tried breaking into the social network through tracing text messages.
ZunZuneo was shut down in 2012, and it’s estimated that $1.6 million of taxpayer dollars were spent on the project.
Photo credit: Garyfgarcia