For decades the Central Intelligence Agency has been shrouded in secrecy. The agency has not had a public face that effectively engaged the American people in public relations, creating some mistrust of the agency in certain sections of society.
But, this lack of understanding may be about to change, as the agency recently made an overture toward the public by opening a social media account on Twitter. The agency’s first Tweet was surprisingly humorous, and caused analysts to wonder what the ultimate purposes of the accounts would be.
“We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet” was Tweeted on June 6, 2014 and racked up hundreds of thousands of Retweets and favorites in just the first couple of days. Despite the fact that the Tweet itself disavowed its own authenticity, the Tweet was issued by a verified account and in conjunction with an announcement by CIA director John Brennan that the agency was planning on joining Twitter.
In a statement Brennan said that the CIA would like to more directly engage the public by providing information regarding the CIA’s history, missions, and current developments. He went on to say that the agency has important insights to share and that the CIA would use the account to make sure that unclassified information is more easily accessible to the American people the agency serves.
The CIA is likely going to use the social media accounts in an attempt to rehabilitate the agency’s image after a long history of extreme secrecy.
Though much remains to be seen about how the agency actually uses its social media accounts, the Twitter account does present the agency with the opportunity to more directly engage the public and better control the narratives surrounding not only the agency itself, but also the missions it conducts and the rationale for such missions.