Daily Dose: CIA Twitter Account Suspended, For Being Fake

There is a lot of questionable content that comes across twitter these days. Some of it we, the savvy public, know is questionable like the seemingly endless stream of parody accounts such as those for Lord Voldemort, Mark Zuckerberg, Betty White, and William Shakespeare. But fake accounts that seem at first glance to have an air of authenticity, and end up being fake, pose another kind of problem. This was the case with twitter handle @US_CIA, before the real folks over at the CIA asked for the account to be shut down.

CIA on Twitter? The agency spies a fake account

The first tweets to come out through the account last week, marked with the official CIA logo, sounded real enough at first. They promoted new mobile content on CIA.gov, and shared links to articles and pictures pertinent to the CIA that seemed like the stuff a public affairs office would be pumping out.

But the tweets grew increasingly stranger and it became clear that the account was not in fact related to an official government agency.

They are questionable, but not a dead giveaway until the tweets began taking stances on international affairs in a way that if retweeted by enough people worldwide who did not see that the content was probably not factual, could have led to unnecessary problems. Some read: “Dear Ayatollah @khamenei_ir, please consider tweeting in English. Our sole Arabic speaking NED analyst is out on vacation this week. Thanks!” and “The Agency is an equal opportunity employer. Here at the CIA we respect all religions, not just the Church of Latter Day Saints”

CIA spokesman Preston Golson told the Washington Post, and all disappointed tweeters out there that the CIA is still not on twitter, and that interested people will have to interact with the Agency the old fashioned way – on their web page.

This act of mischievous ended up being innocuous in the end, but it shows the potential for agencies and individuals to have their voices and influence siphoned. Is the onus on the agency to stay on the lookout for fake content, twitter to place tighter oversight into official content, or the public to decide for themselves what to believe?


“Daily Dose of the Washington Post” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with The Washington Post. If you see great stories in the Post and want to ask a question around it, please send them to [email protected].

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