A Cuban social media platform called ZunZuneo with tens of thousands of users was in fact an espionage project concocted by the U.S. government. Although, what social network isn’t about covert data mining? The Independent reports:
In an apparent throwback to the Cold War, the US government spent $1.6m building a social media network with the aim of undermining the communist government in Cuba, it has emerged.
Documents obtained during an investigation by the Associated Press show that the project, which lasted more than two years and drew thousands of subscribers, was built with secret shell companies and was financed through foreign banks.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was reportedly behind the project which saw the creation of a ‘Cuban Twitter’ dubbed “ZunZuneo” – slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. Users of “ZunZuneo” were entirely unaware of the involvement of the United States government agency and that American contractors were gathering personal data about them.
At its height the service had at least 40,000 subscribers. USAID told the Associated Press that ZunZuneo stopped in September 2012 when a government grant ended. The project has questionable legality under US law and has prompted concerns over clandestine government funded activity.