WASHINGTON — For a spy agency that likes to blend into the background, the CIA’s debut on Twitter has revealed a covert sense of humor.
In a medium heralded for its snark, the Twittersphere gave high praise Friday for the intelligence agency’s first tweet, under the handle @CIA.
“We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet,” posted @)CIA. Within hours it had gained more than 163,000 followers.
At first, that raised a question: Was this really the Central Intelligence Agency? Since any number of fake CIA twitter accounts have sprung up over the years, some caution was in order.
The agency quickly confirmed in a news release that it had, in fact, established a presence on both Twitter and Facebook.
The CIA got its @CIA handle after filing a complaint with Twitter to wrest control from someone who was using it to impersonate the agency, said CIA spokesman Todd Ebitz.
The agency’s tagline: “We are the nation’s first line of defense. We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go.”
On both accounts, the CIA promised “photos, reflections on intelligence history, and fun facts from the CIA World Factbook.”
It also said it would release “updates on CIA career postings and get the latest glimpse into CIA’s Museum,” which is at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va., and not regularly open to the public.
By Friday afternoon, @CIA was following only 25 Twitter accounts, including the White House, Department of Defense and the National Security Agency,
prompting jokes about how the spy agency actually follows far more people around the world.
The Twitterverse quickly had some fun with its newest member, with some posting fake tweets under the CIA’s name. One tweet wondered if this would be the latest surveillance arm of the cryptic agency: “Would it be terrifyingly awesome or awesomely terrifying if @CIA started following you?”
A better question might be: Would you ever even know?
“The CIA has followed people for years,” tweeted Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. “Now tweeple (sic) have a chance to follow @CIA.”
Some weren’t sure it was a good day for social media.
“People say Facebook got lame once your grandmother joined. don’t know what to think about @CIA joining Twitter,” tweeted electronic privacy activist Parker Higgins (@xor).
A torrent of political commentary followed, such as a mock CIA tweet from journalist Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown): “Remember that time Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson helped us launch a coup in Iran?”
Better get used to it, @CIA.
Contribuing: Los Angeles Times