The US government was alleged earlier this month to have created a Twitter-like service designed to weaken Cuba’s communist regime, but such reports have been denied.
According to USAID who funded the service called ZunZuneo, it had no secret agenda, and was simply designed to open up political discussion among its citizens.
Surely not to help dispel claims of a conspiracy, this past Friday the Obama administration confirmed that a similar Twitter-like platform was created in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Administration officials also said Friday that there had been similar programs in dozens of other countries, including a Yes Youth Can project in Kenya that was still active. Officials also said they had plans to start projects in Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Some programs operate openly with the knowledge of foreign governments, but others have not been publicly disclosed.”
Like ZunZuneo, the service no longer exists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which officials say was due to not being self-sustaining.
The State Department worked directly with telecommunication companies in Pakistan to build the social network at a cost of around $1 million.
Named Humari Awaz meaning “Our Voices,” it had over one million users at its peak, and users could remain anonymous.
“The service was used by a diverse segment of Pakistani society, according to people who ran the program. Farmers used it to share market prices. News organizations used it to reach readers. People used it to connect and share information such as cricket scores.”
Officials would not say when the service ended, and Humari Awaz is likely far from the last of Twitter-like social networks funded by the US government.
Photo credit: S.L.