Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

As USAID Appears at MIT Build Peace, Cuban Twitter UNaddressed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 -- Behind the presenters at the "Build Peace" conference at MIT on April 5 was a screen listing the sponsors, including not only the UN Development Program but also the US Agency for International Development.

   Amid the talk of using technology for peace it was impossible not to ponder USAID's role in developing a faux / parallel "Cuban Twitter," exposed by the AP -- and the United Nations connection Inner City Press reported on two days ago, but which the UN's cut-off noon briefing on April 4 did not allow inquiry into.

  The MIT Media Lab / Center for Civic Media event highlighted project like one on the Haitian - Dominican border, a website called Israel Loves Iran, and a project on Cyprus. The World Bank was present (though on the screen with USAID it was identified by its project's name, The Hive). But who would ask about Cuban Twitter?

  USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives lists the Cuban project as closed -- but still has a project in Syria, for example. The website says that "USAID's framework legislation, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, section 641, requires that all programs under the Foreign Assistance Act be identified appropriately overseas as 'American Aid.'"

  Was that done with Cuban Twitter?

USAID spokesperson Matt Herrick's statement, also on the website, did not address the United Nations link, on which UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq declined to comment on April 3 -- and did not take questions on at the truncated April 4 briefing, video here.

  James Eberhard worked on and with the US strategy since at least July 2010. But he is also described as "James Eberhard, CEO and founder of GeoPoll... GeoPoll was recently used by the United Nations to complete its MY World global survey, bringing in 13 percent of total responses in weeks. It is also being used by the World Food Programme on an ongoing basis to assess nutrition access in specific regions within the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

Of this last, the UN itself said:

"In Democratic Republic of the Congo, a partnership with GeoPoll is helping us to conduct the poll via mobile surveys, so we will be able to gather data from large numbers of respondents who are otherwise unreachable in a country with limited internet connectivity.We expect to reach approximately 15,000-18,000 people in the DRC in the coming weeks."

Eberhard has spoken at the UN:

Forty-Ninth Session of the Commission for Social Development, 9 to 18 February 2011

Tuesday 8 February 2. Conference Room: D, NLB

Organizers: Division for Social Policy and Development, co-sponsored with Search for Common Ground

Theme: Youth-led Social Development and Young Philanthropy

Speakers: Mr. Ryan Allis, co-founded “iContact”; Mr. James Eberhard, Founder and Chairman, Mobile Accord.

So the UN and its WFP use Eberhard, who collabores with the US on a "Cuban Twitter." Shouldn't the UN answer this? Watch this site.

The US has issued this:

In reference to the Associated Press article on "Cuban Twitter" on April 3, 2014, USAID Spokesperson Matt Herrick issues the following statement:

"It is longstanding U.S. policy to help Cubans increase their ability to communicate with each other and with the outside world. Working with resources provided by Congress for exactly this purpose, USAID is proud of its work in Cuba to provide basic humanitarian assistance, promote human rights and universal freedoms, and to help information flow more freely to the Cuban people. All of our work in Cuba, including this project, was reviewed in detail in 2013 by the Government Accountability Office and found to be consistent with U.S. law and appropriate under oversight controls.

It is also no secret that in hostile environments, governments take steps to protect the partners we are working with on the ground. The purpose of the Zunzuneo project was to create a platform for Cubans to speak freely among themselves, period. At the initial stages, the grantee sent tech news, sports scores, weather, and trivia to build interest and engage Cubans. After that, Cubans were able to talk among themselves, and we are proud of that. USAID is a development agency and we work all over the world to help people exercise their universal rights and freedoms."

  But what about the UN?
the UN and its WFP use Eberhard, who collabores with the US on a "Cuban Twitter." Shouldn't the UN answer this?

Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2014 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]