'Cuban Twitter' creators head to Congress for a hearing

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Image Credit: Illustration by VentureBeat / Eric Blattberg
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The U.S. official responsible for creating a secret Twitter-like network in Cuba to stir unrest within the country is expected to speak at a congressional hearing next week, the Associated Press reports today.

The “Cuban Twitter” program, called ZunZuneo, was operated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in an effort to destabilize the local government run by dictator Raul Castro by spreading information among Cuba’s citizens. It was created several years ago and, until yesterday, flew under the radar of other U.S. officials and lawmakers, as VentureBeat previously reported.

The AP report quotes one unnamed U.S. senator calling the Cuban Twitter program “dumb, dumb, dumb.” The hearing should help shed some light on the program, including the degree USAID kept the Obama administration and other lawmakers informed. Under U.S. law, any covert action against another government must have written authorization from the president, which wasn’t obtained for ZunZuneo according to the White House.

USAID officials told the AP that ZunZuneo was far from a secret or covert program as officially defined by U.S. law. They also said its purpose was to “promote democracy” rather than to destabilize the government.

It’ll be interesting to see how Congress views the actions once officials have spoken at the hearing.