YouTube, Flicker, and interactive features figure prominently in the intelligence agency’s effort to better engage the public.
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Slideshow: Obama's Tech Tools
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is leveraging popular social media tools as part of Web site enhancements aimed at providing new ways for people to engage with the U.S. intelligence agency.
The agency has fortified CIA.gov with new ways to connect to agency-sponsored content through sites like YouTube and Flickr. The site's homepage now includes links to the CIA's pages on both of those social media sites.
The CIA YouTube channel provides historical and current videos about the agency, including speeches by CIA director Leon Panetta and a video overview of the CIA. The CIA Flickr site provides links to copyright-free pictures from CIA.gov.
The agency also has added a "CIA Interactive" section to the site to highlight some of its more lighthearted and educational content, such as a virtual Web tour of the agency and a Kryptos "Break the Code" game.
The idea behind the improvements is to help the public better understand the mission of the agency by making information about it more accessible and easily digestible, an agency spokeswoman said in a statement.
The move marks a trend by U.S. intelligence agencies, traditionally cloaked in a veil of secrecy about their activities, to be more open to the public via the Web. The FBI also recently revamped its Web site to make it easier for people to get the latest news and information about the bureau's activities.
In general, government agencies have been increasingly using social media to support one of the main tenets of the Open Government Directive to improve government engagement with the public through modern technology.
The CIA is planning more enhancements to the site to boost its public accessibility. One will allow people to access it on mobile devices in a text-based version, and another will offer the site in different languages so non-native English speakers or people overseas can read the site.
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