North Korea Breaks Into Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

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Social media isn't easy, but that hasn't stopped a number of corporations, big and small, from setting out on the trendy branding frontiers of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Lately, though, the limits of social media strategies are being put to the ultimate test by one of the most dubious brands in the entire world. That's right: North Korea. The Kim Jong-Il regime has now established itself on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, even Flickr.

You don't need to be fluent in Korean to see just how badly North Korea's propagandists are faring. Many of the Flickr photos are just thumbnails too tiny to view (we think this one shows a toilet paper factory--prosperity!). The sparse Facebook page includes a July Economist cover image of the Statue of Liberty behind bars. The illustration, meant to complement a story on U.S. prisons, was apparently misread as a condemnation of the U.S. itself. And as for the YouTube videos ... well, see for yourself:

Wired's Spencer Ackerman, in a post title "North Korea's Viral Vids Will Send You Screaming to Your Secret Bunker," explains that there's actually a good reason for North Korea's new social media outreach:

Pyongyang didn’t make that decision because of its fondness for tweeting. South Korea has an aggressive effort to block its citizens from accessing the North’s Korean-language online content. To break past the firewall, the North jumped into social media this summer, according to an U.S. intelligence report disclosed today by Public Intelligence. The move was announced by a North Korean website called Urminjokkkiri that’s administered out of China. (Here’s its English-language edition.) Clearly, Pyongyang's working on more than uranium enrichment to harass the outside world.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.