September 11

CIA raises eyebrows by live-tweeting bin Laden raid – 5 years later

Seal in lobby at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, USA

Seal in lobby at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, USA

Usama bin Laden was just found in a third-floor room and killed over the weekend – at least, that’s what you might think if you were following the CIA on Twitter. 

The CIA raised eyebrows for its decision to “live tweet” on Sunday the daring SEAL Team 6 raid on bin Laden’s Pakistani compound – a mission that occurred five years ago.

The agency, which has engendered at-best mixed reactions to some of its previous social media ploys, tweeted its intentions twice, including at 1:22 p.m. ET on Sunday. 

But subsequent tweets were only marked with the hashtag “#UBLRaid” and no marker to indicate the historical nature of the blow-by-blow account. 

One tweet at 1:51 p.m. said: “Helicopters depart from Afghanistan for compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan #UBLRaid.” Sunday’s Twitter campaign comprised 13 tweets over the course of about six hours. The tweet announcing the terrorist leader's (belated) death received the most retweets of the group.

Some Twitter users expressed admiration for the agency’s work in finding and killing the world’s most wanted man on May 1, 2011.

Others were confused, and questioned whether this was a sound use of social media.

BuzzFeed fired off a mock tweet at the CIA's expense. 

And other users took the opportunity to question the entire chain of events and posit conspiracy theories.

“The takedown of bin Laden stands as one of the great intelligence successes of all time,” CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani told ABC News. “History has been a key element of CIA’s social media efforts. On the fifth anniversary, it is appropriate to remember the day and honor all those who had a hand in this achievement.”

Trapani said the agency has similarly used social media to mark other anniversaries.

The CIA previously has been questioned for some of its flippant posts.

“We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet,” the inaugural CIA account tweet in June 2014 said.

Another in July 2014 read, “No, we don’t know where Tupac is. #Twitterversary,” referencing popular conspiracy myths that dead rapper Tupac Shakur is living in secret somewhere.