CIA Goes Viral, Joins Twitter, Facebook

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has embraced social media and the public is loving it back. The spy agency made the announcement today that it would launch accounts on both Facebook and Twitter.

It's first tweet, "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet," had been retweeted over 75,000 times in just a few hours.

Espionage fans can follow the CIA on Twitter @CIA and on Facebook "for the latest CIA updates, #tbt (Throwback Thursday) photos, reflections on intelligence history, and fun facts from the CIA World Factbook," the agency wrote in a statement.

The CIA also said the social media accounts would offer information about job postings, and provide glimpses of the CIA's museum, "the best museum most people never get to see," according to the agency.

"By expanding to these platforms, CIA will be able to more directly engage with the public and provide information on CIA's mission, history, and other developments," CIA Director John Brennan said in a public release.

"We have important insights to share, and we want to make sure that unclassified information about the Agency is more accessible to the American public that we serve, consistent with our national security mission," he said.

In a little more than an hour, @CIA had over 85,200 followers and 193 "likes" on Facebook -- and the numbers of followers are skyrocketing.

The agency, which already has a presence on Flickr and YouTube, told VOA that getting on Facebook and Twitter had "been in the works for a long time."

"There was someone out there impersonating CIA via Twitter, said CIA spokeswoman K. Jordan Caldwell. "Earlier this year, CIA filed an impersonation complaint with Twitter and they secured the @CIA account for us, which is routine for government agencies. This has been a lengthy process."

The agency said other social offerings were in the works, including live streaming via Ustream.

Some were already delighting in the spy agency's new social presence. American news agency ABC tweeted a joke, poking fun at the CIA's penchant for secrecy.

Former Pakistan Ambassador Husain Haqqani [@husainhaqqani] tweeted, "The CIA has followed people for years. Now tweeple have a chance to follow @CIA."
 
Other's joked about how @CIA is only following 25 people.

But not everyone is laughing. Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA's Security and Human Rights Campaign, speaking to VOA via Skype, said, "Well, I was really struck by the irony of it."
 
"Here you have an entity that is basically dedicated to secrecy and they're up on social media and at least pretending to want to engage with the public. Now, I'm all for them being on Twitter but what they should also do is meet their human rights obligations to disclose the truth about the CIA torture program and drone strikes," said Johnson.

VOA's Jeff Seldin contributed to this report from the Pentagon.

VOA News / Jun. 09, 2014 08:19 KST