The US government loves Twitter. For NASA, it's a public relations goldmine. For the State Department, it's a bizarre weapon in the fight on terrorism. For the CIA, it's a chance to revel in kitsch. The agency, which somehow did not yet have a real social media presence, has just posted its first tweet.
We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.— CIA (@CIA) June 6, 2014
The Twitter launch comes a few days after the CIA opened a Facebook page, where it recently honored D-Day. The agency will post job listings, photos, trivia from the CIA World Factbook, and "reflections on intelligence history." It's part of what looks like a larger online overhaul, which will include event livestreaming.
The agency will also participate in Throwback Thursday.
The CIA has mostly escaped ire during the Edward Snowden leaks, but social media is still a clear way for the agency to humanize itself, drawing attention to tweets instead of drones. That doesn't mean organizations are immune from criticism online, though, and it should probably be careful about its hashtag campaigns. The Defense Department's research wing, meanwhile, has responded with its own quip, linking to a call for "vanishing" electronics that destroy themselves.
Amnesty International is less amused. "The CIA's first Tweet would be funny if it weren't for the agency's use of torture and extrajudicial executions," says program director Zeke Johnson. "They should put as least as much effort into following the law as they do into social media. The full truth about the CIA torture and drone strikes should be made made public immediately and those responsible for crimes held accountable." The agency is supposed to be close to declassifying a report on its "enhanced interrogation" program, with a release planned on or around July 4th.
Update June 6th, 2014 3:15pm: Added followup tweet from DARPA and statement from Amnesty International.