US built dozens of Twitter-like services around the world to promote political debates

The US government has operated multiple social media services around the world in hopes of providing a forum for debate and political unrest. The programs, which operated in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, and dozens of other countries, were similar to ZunZuneo, a US-created social media service that had 40,000 users in Cuba at its peak. That program, which was secretly run out of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), was uncovered by the Associated Press earlier this month in an extensive report. At its peak, the text messaging-based service — which has been described as “Cuban Twitter” — had some 40,000 users. It abruptly shut down in 2012 after officials ran out of cash and failed to make the service self-sustainable.

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