“No, we don’t know where Tupac is,” tweeted the CIA in 2014.
In 2016, the agency tweeted a real-time report on the robbery that killed Osama bin Laden on his fifth anniversary. A spokesman for the agency told ABC at the time that the tweets were meant to “remember the day and honor everyone involved in that achievement.” The move, however, was largely planned and left many wondering why a secret service needed a social media presence in the first place.
The CIA’s own Instagram account contains carefree series like #humansofCIA, in which employees are introduced. The agency, which didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday, recently renamed its website with a heavily minimalist aesthetic.
Other intelligence agencies, including the FBI with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram and YouTube accounts, are active on social media.
Michael Landon-Murray, a professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs who researched social media use by American intelligence agencies, said social media has become part of “image and branding” for intelligence agencies and is “a box that it needs to be checked. “
“A lot of what intelligence services do is inherently ugly,” he said. Social media can be a way for organizations to demystify the public about their business and “look cool, look funny – in a sense almost deceiving the public,” he said.
Those who follow intelligence services on social media tend to fully support or oppose the agencies, he said.
“I think there are potentially useful applications out there, and ultimately, I hope that when the public better understands the intelligence community, we can have better conversations about things like the effectiveness of advanced interrogation techniques,” he said.