Big things have small beginnings. And abrupt endings.
The AP uncovered crazy details around a U.S. program that developed a Twitter-like social network that collected tens of thousands of users, and lasted more than two years starting in 2009.
The social network's focus was to bring in tons of young Cubans, whose Internet has been censored by the communist Cuban government, and once they became active, push them toward protesting against their leaders. The aim was for the social media platform to create "smart mobs" who would "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society," similar to the way social media played a part in the Arab Spring.
Since this is the U.S. we're talking about, the Cuban users had no idea that our government was behind it, and that they were collecting information about them. "There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement,” a memo from 2010 said, reportedly from Mobile Accord Inc., one of the project’s creators. “This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the Mission.” In all, the program reached about 40,000 users until the grant funding the project ended.
The project was called "ZunZuneo," slang for a Cuban hummingbird.