U.S. secretly launched Cuban twitter analog aimed at encouraging revolution
It's 2012 and we are still trying to overthrow the government of Cuba.
The United States Agency for International Development set up a text-based social media platform in 2009 called ZunZuneo, which is slang for a hummingbird's tweet. The agency used shell companies in Spain and a Cayman Islands bank account to obscure the project's true origins and circumvent Cuba's strict Internet censorship.
Documents obtained by the AP showed that the U.S. government wanted to first attract subscribers to the service with news updates and then blast out political content once ZunZuneo gained popularity. The goal was to faciliate a sort of Cuban Spring, inspiring mass gatherings of people to "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society," as one document read.
The company charged with building the service, Mobile Accord Inc., was also gathering valuable intelligence about the Cuban subscribers including "gender, age, 'receptiveness' and 'political tendencies,'" according to the AP.
But ZunZuneo had lost steam by the middle of 2012. The Cuban government caught onto the scheme by the time the service signed up just 40,000 subscribers in 2011, a former employee told the AP, and the company charged with finding an independent firm to take over the operation from the U.S. government failed in its search for new management.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey met with a State Department official about potentially taking over funding for the project, according to documents obtained by the AP, although he declined comment on the matter.