The National Security Agency (NSA) “leads the U.S. Government in cryptology that encompasses both Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (IA) products and services, and enables Computer Network Operations (CNO) in order to gain a decision advantage for the Nation and our allies under all circumstances.” In other words, U.S. intelligence and code-breaking.
About two weeks ago, NSACareers sent out this tweet:
Looks like a drunk tweet, right? Some intern got a hold of the NSA’s classified iPhone and went to town?
Nope. This was absolutely brilliant. The NSA does intelligence and code-breaking, and what they posted on their careers account was, in fact, a code. A substitution cipher, to be specific. Decoded, the message read:
Want to know what it takes to work at NSA? Check back each Monday in May as we explore careers essential to protecting our nation.
This wasn’t the most complicated of codes, but it got people talking. As you can see, the tweet above was retweeted more than 2,700 times and favorited more than 1,300 times – a huge number compared to the average NSACareers tweet, which barely ever got more than a handful of retweets and favorites. The tweet also generated quite a bit of media attention and numerous national news stories on the internet.
This tweet proves that government can, in fact, use social media, and use it really well and creatively. I have a visceral hatred for this stereotype that government employees are uncreative drones who are incapable of competing with workers in the private sector. This tweet is proof that the government is more than capable of competing with the private sector in terms of creativity and generating excitement for what they do.
From a social media perspective, this tweet shows that there are great ways that the government can use social media in a positive manner. Yes, this blog discusses disastrous examples of government officials using social media, but here’s an example of social media gone right. Government is more than capable of using Facebook, Twitter and the like to fulfill its mission and goals. Here’s a great example.