The Central Intelligence Agency is announcing today that it’s getting into the social media biz. “@CIA” will be its handle on Twitter, the short-attention-span platform with 255 million monthly active users, and it’ll also launch on Facebook.

The presence on these premier social media sites will supplement the CIA’s existing digital presence, which includes a Web site and Flickr and YouTube accounts. CIA Director John Brennan explained the move in a press release: “By expanding to these platforms, CIA will be able to more directly engage with the public and provide information on CIA’s mission, history, and other developments. We have important insights to share, and we want to make sure that unclassified information about the Agency is more accessible to the American public that we serve, consistent with our national security mission.”

Don’t get too excited, however, about the level of detail in the tweets and Facebook posts. Though a press release on the new accounts says that the agency will post the “latest news, statements, and career information,” consider the order that came down from the director of national intelligence earlier this year. It stipulated a requirement that intelligence employees seek authorization before talking to the media about a broad basket of “intelligence-related information.”

Given such constraints, it’s a safe bet that the published information will go heavy on promotional fare. The press release notes that tweets will showcase “artifacts and other information from the CIA’s Museum — the best museum most people never get to see. CIA will also post updates and information from the Agency’s ‘World Factbook,’ a unique public resource and educational tool, as well as unclassified intelligence histories and other information.”

Here’s the way the CIA Twitter page looked just before it posted its first tweet.


(screengrab)

Hold on a second, though: How did the CIA get control of the @CIA handle? A department spokesperson responds, “CIA filed an impersonation complaint with Twitter and they secured the @CIA account for us, which is routine for government agencies.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.