Skip to content
Opinion
The Editors

Freeing Cuba One Tweet at a Time

The U.S. government's so-called "Cuban Twitter" plan was by no means perfect, but it was imaginative and necessary.
Could Twitter liberate Cubans from the grip of Raul Castro? Photographer: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty Images
Could Twitter liberate Cubans from the grip of Raul Castro? Photographer: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty Images

Rarely is a government program shut down because it is too successful. Yet that is essentially what happened to a U.S. initiative to create a Cuban version of Twitter.

From 2009 to 2012, the U.S. Agency for International Development funded and developed -- through contractors, front companies and offshore accounts -- a mobile-phone text-messaging service for sharing news and exchanging opinions that attracted more than 40,000 Cubans, according to the Associated Press. As the service gained popularity, however, U.S. officials realized that the only way to keep its Yanqui origins under wraps was to spin it off as an independent company, an effort that failed when they could find no way to generate sufficient revenue or recruit new private management.