Why The CIA’s First Tweet Isn’t Funny
Ever since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the US government’s spying activity, the debate about surveillance, privacy and security has been raging in America and around the world.
And when the CIA joined Twitter with a tongue-in-cheek tweet on June 6, 2014, it showed what spy agencies are willing to do to influence public opinion.
We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.
— CIA (@CIA) June 6, 2014
That message has been retweeted more than 200,000 times. But as Elias Groll pointed out in a blog post on Foreign Policy, “for anyone who has ever tried to write anything about the agency, it is a dark joke.” Why? Simply because it reflects the agency’s MO when it comes to managing information about itself and its work. “In its capacity as America’s premier intelligence agency, the CIA is very good at controlling information about itself and its work,” Groll explained. “The phrase ‘neither confirm nor deny’ is wonderful shorthand for the agency’s frequent refusal to reveal information about its operations, and its use on Twitter isn’t so much humorous as it is smugly ironic about the power vested in the agency.”
Case in point, the CIA’s response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Jonathan Manes from the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation: