The Associated Press has learned the U.S. government masterminded the creation of a "Cuban Twitter" - a communications network designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba, built with secret shell companies and financed through foreign bank transactions.
The project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba's stranglehold on the Internet with a primitive social media platform that would first build a Cuban audience then later push them toward dissent. Yet its users were neither aware it was created by a U.S. agency with ties to the State Department, nor that American contractors were gathering personal data about them.
It is unclear whether the scheme was legal under U.S. law which requires written authorization of covert action by the president and congressional notification .Officials at USAID would not say who had approved the program or whether the White House was aware of it.
At minimum, details uncovered by the AP appear to contradict the U.S. Agency for International Development's longstanding claims that it does not conduct covert actions, and could undermine the agency's mission to deliver aid to the world's poor and vulnerable - an effort that requires the trust and cooperation of foreign governments.