Last week, a new report hit the Internet claiming the U.S. government was secretly behind a Twitter-like social network to weaken communism in Cuba.
Allegedly funded by USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development, “secret shell companies” were created to make it look like a legitimate project, and CEOs were even brought in to help guide the service.
Called ZunZuneo, USAID says the report “contained significant inaccuracies and false conclusions,” and the social network was created purely to help Cubans easily connect with one another.
In a recent post, the agency published eight facts relating to the project, and says the Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked over every aspect back in 2012.
“GAO’s team of analysts had unrestricted access to project documents, extended telephone conversations with Mobile Accord (ZunZuneo) and even traveled to Cuba. The GAO identified no concerns in the report about the legality of USAID’s programs, including ZunZuneo, and offered USAID zero recommendations for improvements.”
The alleged documents leaked in the report were “case study research and brainstorming notes,” and there was no spreading of political dissent as ZunZuneo “did not direct content.”
A secret shell company was not formed in Spain, says USAID, and users’ private data was not collected for nefarious purposes.
“Users could voluntarily submit personal information. Few did, and the program did not use this information for anything.”
While the report claimed funding for the Twitter-like social network was covered up as an unspecified Pakistan project, the agency says Congress was fully aware of what the funds were being used towards.
“We welcome tough journalism – and we embrace it. It makes our programs better. But we also believe it’s important that the good work of USAID not be falsely characterized.”
USAID says ZunZuneo had around 68,000 users at its peak, higher than the 40,000 originally reported.
Photo credit: USAID