What in Tarnation Is the CIA Doing on Twitter?
The CIA made its Twitter debut with this tongue-in-cheek tweet:
We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.
— CIA (@CIA) June 6, 2014
The takeaway? Someone now may very well have the title of social media editor at the CIA. As the Social Media Editor at Contently, I can say that I’m not too jealous. Because if I make a mistake, I may get fired, but at least I won’t be be locked in a dark room without food or water for 48 hours as my sanity begins to become more fleeting than a greenlit ABC drama. (At least I hope not. We do have a conference room nicknamed “the interrogation room.”) But seriously, the CIA joining Twitter raises a few questions. First off: What the hell is the CIA doing on Twitter? Moving on: How and why is the CIA attempting to brand itself on social media? And how will this stir up the long-debated issue of balancing transparency and privacy online? It’s one thing to say The New York Times needs to be more transparent about their inner workings; it’s another to ask that of America’s most infamous top-secret agency. As a welcoming (see: hazing) gesture for the CIA’s Twitter debut,The Wall Street Journal‘s Jason Gay provided this snarky response:
WikiLeaks didn’t miss an opportunity to join in on the fun:
The New York Review of Books publicly slammed the agency for its controversial interrogation techniques with a string of 10 tweets that highlighted the contents of a 2007 report titled “Report on the Treatment of Fourteen ‘High Value Detainees’ in CIA Custody.” And it all started with this biting use of the CIA’s shiny new Twitter handle.
— NY Review of Books (@nybooks) June 6, 2014
As for the government’s history of launching high-profile social platforms, the White House and Barack Obama have a history of succeeding on social media, each armed with active social pages, including YouTube channels and Tumblr accounts where the POTUS conducts live Q&As. Obama’s Twitter account was also responsible for most-retweeted picture in history, until Ellen DeGeneres swooped in and smashed that record at the 2014 Oscar Awards. But now, the CIA is in prime position to break that record if they ever let loose any super secret confidential information on the news-breaking platform. Unless WikiLeaks gets there first, of course.
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