This is a big deal
Jorge Rey/Getty Images
The United States government built a Twitter-like service in Cuba to stir up political unrest and help uncap the country's strict control of information, according to an exclusive report by the Associated Press. The text messaging service, called ZunZuneo, started in 2010 and amassed a following of 40,000 Cubans, who shared news and corresponded with each other on the service, but had no idea it was "created by the U.S. government, or that American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes."
The plan was to eventually garner hundreds of thousands of users by luring them with "non-controversial content," like news and music. When the user base was large enough, the Americans behind ZunZeneo planned to inject political messages that would produce protests and create a "Cuban Spring." ZunZuneo suddenly disappeared in mid-2012 when funding ran out.
To be legal, a secret program like this would require presidential authorization. It's unclear if the White House provided such authorization.
Read the rest of the scoop at the AP.