"Hey, guys, the NSA now has a public relations Twitter account," people on Twitter said today. Except that it's obviously, idiotically fake. Why would anyone bother?
In case you can't tell from the account's tweets, a representative from the NSA confirmed by phone with The Atlantic Wire: It's fake. "The NSA public affairs office does not have a Twitter account," we were told, though the recruitment department does.
But you should have been able to tell from the tweets. Like this one:
Note that the link doesn't work. Or this one, celebrating the widely-mocked kids area of the agency website, which has been around for nearly a decade.
The NSA would not 1) link to that again, in this moment, 2) make a Simpsons joke while doing so.
So who fell for it? Lots of people. Like, apparently, the Guardian's (excellent) reporter Spencer Ackerman and internet guru Clay Shirky. Both of whom should know better and, deep inside, probably do.
Why would someone make a fake NSA public relations account? Option one is that on a second-by-second basis people make fake Twitter accounts for stupid things that they then fill with unfunny jokes. Twitter is like an eternal comedy open mic night specializing in impressions, from which no one is ever turned away.
Option two is that it's meant to be used by the other gross denizen of Twitterdom, the fake news originator. Put up a few tweets that seem maybe legit, wait a few hours, and then tweet something dumb like "BREAKING: We are ending all surveillance Friday at noon," or something similarly idiotic. If that's the plan, just watch. They'll do this anyway, and people will fall for it.
In short, there's only one trustworthy source of information about the NSA — The Atlantic Wire. Ha ha, just kidding. There are no trustworthy sources of information about anything.