After the CIA joins Twitter, other organisations may be considering how best to use the little bird
John Rentoul on the other unlikely organisations that are, or appear to be, in the Twitterverse
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 08 June 2014
When the CIA launched its Twitter account on Friday, the entire Twitterverse was shocked. You mean there are still big organisations that are not on Twitter? Most people are not on Twitter, but it is increasingly rare to find any organisation that cares about its image that does not use social media as part of its public relations.
The US Central Intelligence Agency has always been less secretive than the British intelligence agencies, the existence of which was officially acknowledged only in the 1980s. And its first tweet even made fun of the conventions of secrecy: "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet." Just in case anyone thought this might lead to an opening of the post-Snowden and post-WikiLeaks floodgates, though, the second tweet was more reserved: "We look forward to sharing great unclassified content with you."
All the people who replied to the CIA's inaugural tweet by asking if it could remind them of their internet banking password should really have sent their messages to the US National Security Agency, however. It was the NSA that was implicated in mass monitoring of electronic metadata by Edward Snowden, and it has been on Twitter since December – although its account is curiously not listed by Twitter as "verified", unlike the CIA's.
Here we present a list of other unlikely organisations that are, or appear to be, on Twitter.
Turns out to be a James Bond fan site. Perhaps the real MI6, otherwise known as SIS, the Secret Intelligence Service, which deals with abroad, is on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter?
This not the genuine UK domestic intelligence agency, we think. It features a picture of Lee Miller in Hitler's bath and says: “If you are a person of interest we will be following you.”
Not sure if it has anything to do with official Jehovah's Witnesses, as it only notes each day how many people have followed and unfollowed them (two of each yesterday). No record of how many doors were closed in their faces.
Is helpfully labelled “satire/spoof”, and we are sometimes amused: “Text from Prince Charles: ‘The King of Spain is abdicating to let his son have a go. What a nice man.' Not replying. #abdication.”
Is genuine, though. Promising, “Updates, pictures and videos from Buckingham Palace about the work and activities of The Royal Family and the institution of Monarchy.” it has 667,000 followers.
Turns out not to be the care home in Hove, capitalising on its newfound fame, thanks to escapee resident Bernard Jordan who (at the time of going to press) didn't have the expected spoof account either.
This is not run by the people who run the annual conference of influential people, but by people devoted to idea that Bilderberg is a conspiracy of the powerful.
The Secret Seven are so secret that they don't have a Twitter account, but you can follow the Enid Blyton Society instead.
is not what we might hope, the weather having no social media editor. @wimbledon_rain has sadly stopped giving precipitation updates, despite being very in demand, if only for two weeks a year. You'll have to visit @WeatherCast_UK instead.
“Official Twitter channel of the United Grand Lodge of England, which is the governing body of Freemasonry in England, Wales and the Channel Islands.” Hiding in plain sight.
The once-secret Roman Catholic society has 465 followers. The Spanish branch has 25,000, US branch 2,700.
This account has been “suspended”, according to Twitter. So perhaps it is Russia's secret service and nothing to do with the Federation of Small Businesses.
“Newcomers @CIA have a verified account, while we still don't. Does @twitter prefer sinister govt. spooks to honest terrorists? #favoritism” We think it's not the official account.
“An English translation of @uriminzok – the official North Korea Twitter feed.” Its 3,900 followers will be disappointed if they are expecting cat pictures.
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