Here’s a joke: How long does it take the CIA to respond to a public records request?
Amy Johnson, an anthropologist and MIT PHD candidate, studies how government agencies use social media – and particularly, the rare cases when agencies abandon the stilted tenor of formal communication in favor of the jokes and casual tone typical of Twitter and Facebook posts.
So when the CIA created an official Twitter account in 2014 and began making jokes about Tupac and shouting out Ellen DeGeneres, Johnson was intrigued. She filed a Freedom of Information Act request for details on the intelligence agency’s social media policies.
But when they responded, Johnson didn’t like the punchline.
“The basic experience of it was a lot of delays,” she said in an interview. “I was asking for something I think should have been really simple and rather small. It was baffling what was going on.”
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