Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Political Messages Penned For Cuba Twitter Program

A book street vendor passes the time on her smart phone as she waits for customers in Havana, Cuba. The administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development on Tuesday begins a series of appearances Tuesday, April 8, 2014, before lawmakers asking questions about his agency’s secret “Cuban Twitter,” a social media network built to stir unrest in the communist island. First up in the questioning of administrator Rajiv Shah is Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who publicly called the social media program “dumb, dumb, dumb.”

WASHINGTON (ASSOCIATED PRESS) — Draft messages produced for a Twitter-like social media network that the U.S. government secretly built in Cuba were overtly political and some taunted the Castro family.

The Associated Press obtained the messages in internal documents from the program. The new disclosures came as the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development told Congress on Tuesday that the program was never intended to stir unrest within Cuba's government.

At a hearing, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont told USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah that the social media program was "cockamamie." An AP investigation last week found the program evaded Cuba's Internet restrictions by creating a text-messaging service that could be used to organize political demonstrations. It drew tens of thousands of subscribers who were unaware it was backed by the Obama administration.
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