Say what you will about their role in U.S. foreign policy — what with the drone program and the torture and the coups — but the CIA has proven itself to be very, very good at Twitter.
Its first tweet was the second most shared inaugural tweet ever, drawing both applause and eye-rolling.
Their Twitter (and Facebook) is run by a woman named Carolyn Reams, the Agency's social media manager.
She recently sat down for an interview with a podcast called DigitalGov — which is produced by the General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, "a program that works with agencies across government to help improve citizen services and reduce their cost " — to talk about her internet successes and failures.
You can listen to the podcast here, or take a look at six amazing highlights below:
1. CIA Director John Brennan hand-picked the CIA's first tweet.
It took 11 months for the CIA to get onto Twitter, thanks to security concerns and the bureaucratic process. A few weeks before launch, Reams said, they realized they needed a tweet that would actually be better than "Hey, we're on Twitter!"
"The first tweets were a group project," she revealed, "we presented four and five, [and Brennan] picked that one as the favorite."
2. Reams is apparently referred to in the halls of the Agency as "the social Khaleesi."
(For non-nerds/people who live under a rock, that is a reference to one of the main characters on Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen. She is the Mother of Dragons and generally a badass, so the fact that all these spies refer to Reams that way shows that they both respect her and are huge nerds themselves.)
3. This tweet about cat pictures is the sort of thing that requires the head of one of the most secretive organizations in the world's approval before it's sent out.
4. The CIA was really proud of how many people they trolled the one time they tweeted in Russian.
The tweet, which was a quote from Boris Pasternak about his novel Doctor Zhivago, was sent out as part of a series discussing the CIA's role in helping disseminate the book in Russian when it was banned in the Soviet Union. Reames initially wanted to do several tweets in Russian, but was talked down to just one.
"I was discussing it with the Director, and he asked 'what were you going to do next week?'," Reames recalled. "'We'd really like to tweet out this quote in Russian.' 'Wait, won't people think we've been hacked.' I said, 'Yeah, thats the idea.'"
5. Reams is always looking for fun ways to tell the CIA's history, like this tweet about how Julia Child helped invent shark repellent while working as a spy.
6. But there are misses too. Like that one time she accidentally made people think North Korea was invading South Korea because she had a dental appointment.
Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Hayes Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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