First, let’s introduce Twitter. Twitter is a micro-blogging service where users can post 140 long text posts (tweets) to their accounts where other users who follow their blogs can read or reblog them. Twitter’s commitment to 140 character-long posts is a testament to Twitter’s presence as one of the older social networks on the internet. If you remember before the days of smartphones, SMS (the messaging standard of text messages) were allotted (and still are) to the size of 140 8-bit characters. So in the old days, when internet access was not available on every device, you would text Twitter your tweets and it would automatically post it to your Twitter feed.
Despite Twitter having existed for just over eight years, only a few weeks ago (June 6th) did the CIA decide to launch their own Twitter account. The purpose of Central Intelligence Agency is to conduct espionage operations, collect information useful to the security of the United States, overseeing counter-terrorist operations, and to an extent, cyber-crime (the Air Force is also largely responsible for cyber operations). Whether or not you condone its existence or function, the men and women of the CIA work in secrecy daily in the hope of providing an increasingly safe homeland. So why would an organization that functions in near-total secrecy want to have a Twitter account?
Certain individuals like celebrities such as Kim Kardashian or 2 Chainz that enjoy attention or can use Twitter to bolster their image do so by cataloging and archiving their daily routines. Although celebrities are the most noteworthy, any individuals that have a Twitter account are encouraged by the site’s culture to self archive. Nearly anything, including but not limited to comical, sources of news, political opinions, or personal friends, can make money from “endorsement tweets” can get productive use out of having a twitter or at the very least appease fans. Twitter accounts can have a quantitate value determined. Time magazine developed an algorithm that displays the apparent value that any public Twitter account has. But the CIA isn’t looking to endorse anything, the CIA made a Twitter for the intention of self archiving.
With the recent major leaks that have occurred for different national intelligence agencies the American people now have even greater distrust in their government. The Edward Snowden leaks in particular showed how far reaching the spying that was debatably legal is occurring all over the world. The CIA’s identity was damaged even though the primary leaks regarded activities by the NSA. The creation of the CIA’s Twitter shows their attempt at self archiving to improve their image. They want to be seen as a human force on their account – just look at their first tweet’s joke – instead of some scary organization.
It is likely that this account will improve their image somewhat over time, furthermore, they have some control over information dispersion. If there was a big announcement that was intended to be shared (something like Bin Laden being killed) it can be announced from the account. The practice of self archiving can be powerful but will it be enough for the CIA?
Image included is not mine and I don’t claim ownership.