Cuban Twitter Knock-off, Used for US Propaganda Cuban Twitter Knock-off, Used for US Propaganda

Cuban Twitter Knock-off, Used for US Propaganda

by Joshua Heller

April 6, 2014

Another failed social media site isn't news, but it tops the headlines, when the site is operated by the US government as a propaganda tool. ZunZuneo was a Twitter-esque text messaging service that sought to foment political unrest in Cuba. Users could circumvent Cuba's repressive firewall to communicate with each other. 

An AP investigative report uncovered this scheme by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), a development organization supported by the State Department. The BBC reports that USAID "was proud of its work in Cuba" in helping people to exercise their rights to connect with the outside world. 

These new revelations could potentially undermine the agency's claim that they aren't involved in covert maneuvers in countries where it operates aid programs. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the foreign operations appropriation subcommittee, finds the project  troubling, and told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell plainly that “this is dumb, dumb, dumb." 

Since internet access is very limited in Cuba, ZunZuneo connected it's 40,000 users via text message. The project reportedly ran from 2009 to 2012, when the operating grant ended. 

Despite being a propaganda endeavor, ZunZuneo went through the hiccups of any young start-up. We found a few feeble posts from the remnants of their Facebook page.

They really wanted you to like their Facebook page. 

Like any social site they had regularly took the site down for maintenance.

They really tried to get 300 likes by the end of the week! 

Who needs Twitter's "Follow Friday" when you can use ZunZuneo's "SigueSabado"?

They tried expanding to other regions. 

If you have any questions, their operators are standing by. (No response.)

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Cuban Twitter Knock-off, Used for US Propaganda