The CIA joined Twitter on Friday morning with a tongue-in-cheek salvo: “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.”
The post was retweeted more than 100,000 times, and the account ballooned from 4,000 followers to nearly 70,000 in less than an hour. In contrast, the CIA was following 25 accounts, including the White House, Department of Defense and the National Security Agency.
So how did the nation’s spymasters describe themselves? The agency’s biography reads: “We are the Nation’s first line of defense. We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go.”
The CIA confirmed that the verified account belonged to the agency with a short statement about a new social media push.
The account will provide the “latest CIA updates, #tbt (Throwback Thursday) photos, reflections on intelligence history, and fun facts from the CIA World Factbook,” the agency wrote.
The Twitterverse quickly had some fun with its newest member, with some posting fake tweets under the CIA’s name. One tweet wondered if this would be the latest surveillance arm of the cryptic agency: “Would it be terrifyingly awesome or awesomely terrifying if @CIA started following you?”
A better question might be: Would you ever even know?
But not everyone was amused.
In response to the CIA’s first tweet, Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security &Human Rights Program, called on the agency to release “the full truth about the CIA torture and drone strikes.”
“The CIA’s first tweet would be funny if it weren’t for the agency’s use of torture and extrajudicial executions. They should put as least as much effort into following the law as they do into social media,” Johnson said.