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Is someone drunk tweeting from the CIA Twitter account?

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Henry Belot

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The clandestine world of espionage isn’t normally known for self-deprecating humour and social media gags, but try telling that to the people behind the official Central Intelligence Agency account.

After joining the network unfashionably late last month, the agency’s Twitter team has rubbished the catchphrase “we can neither confirm or deny” by commenting on issues ranging from Tupac Shakur to US goalkeeper Tim Howard’s efforts during the World Cup.

The CIA had opened up on its Twitter page briefly, announcing it would answer the top five questions in 10 minutes - including if they knew the whereabouts of Tupac, to knowing someone's password. 

And while there's no suggestion the CIA's tweeter was actually drunk, they've certainly taken it upon themselves to poke fun at the agency, and some of the questions hurled at them via social media. 

Ogilvy managing director Yiannis Konstantopoulos said "they've been pretty tongue-in-cheek and have kinda been taking the piss out of themselves and what they do".

"Everyone tends to think an agency like the CIA wouldn’t be too good on Twitter but it turns out they’ve got a pretty good sense of humour,” he said.

But Mr Konstantopoulos, who decided to follow the CIA earlier this week, said we shouldn’t expect the account to go anywhere near the contentious issues of privacy, Edward Snowden, or data security.

“It’s surprising to me that they’ve been able to push this account through given the nature of the work that the CIA does,” he said. 

Mr Konstantopoulos said there was most likely a number of people behind the account with content being routinely reviewed by someone internally before publication. 

The intelligence agency began their charm offensive on June 7 with a promise to share “great #unclassified content” and has since clocked up a touch over 700,000 followers.

Of course, the official WikiLeaks Twitter account hit back immediately saying “we look forward to sharing great classified info about you” – touché.

On Wednesday, the official account formally apologised to US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres for not following her back but said they’d pose for a selfie if she stopped by the Langley Headquarters.

But it’s not all punditry and puns, the account kindly informed its followers that human blood boils at 63,000 feet and that it would take 33.7 million soccer balls in a row to span the distance between Washington DC and Rio de Janeiro.

After tweeting 25 times in one day during the National Security Conference at Georgetown University on June 12, the social media manager threw up their hands and claimed “transparency” as a defence.

The social media manager was smart enough not to follow the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose phone calls and text messages had been read by the National Security Agency for more than a decade.

In fact the account only follows other government and defence departments like Homeland Security and the US Department of Defence, whose drab engagement accentuated the mysterious social media manger’s wit.