How This Twitter Knockoff Was Actually A US Plan To Sabotage Cuba

The secret program was underway as far back as 2010. How This Twitter Knockoff Was Actually A US Plan To Sabotage Cuba Giphy

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The social media buzz this week has been dominated by TikTok, with U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voting in favor of either requiring China-owned ByteDance to divest itself from the app or banning the platform nationwide.

But it wasn’t too long ago that America exported social media sites to another country with the goal of destabilizing its government.

The year was 2010

TikTok critics say China might be using the platform to spy on Americans or indoctrinate users with communist propaganda. While that’s still up for debate, new evidence shows that American intelligence officials were behind a somewhat similar plan of their own.

It all started with a platform called ZunZuneo about 14 years ago.

Here’s the background:

  • Twitter was already an established force within the social media realm
  • Cuban leader Fidel Castro had stepped down about two years earlier
  • Cell phones and internet access were heavily throttled across Cuba

All of these factors converged in a secretive plan to launch ZunZuneo (which imitated Twitter’s bird theme with a name that approximated a Cuban hummingbird impression). But this wasn’t about being nice to oppressed Cuban citizens by giving them a stripped-down social media app that they could use despite a ban on Twitter.

More than just an app

ZunZuneo essentially allowed users to send messages to each other, which was a novel concept in Cuba at the time. But several years later, the true intention of this app finally came to light.

Government documents detailed its goal of allowing Cubans to organize protests and demonstrations to essentially disrupt the nation’s government or, as one insider put it, “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”

While ZunZuneo went under in 2012, it was replaced by a similar platform, Piramideo, a short time later.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee March 16th, 2024
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