Google in 2012 sought to help insurgents overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to State Department emails receiving fresh scrutiny this week. Messages between former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s team and one of the company’s executives detailed the plan for Google to get involved in the region. “Please keep close hold, but my team is planning to launch a tool … that will publicly track and map the defections in Syria and which parts of the government they are coming from,” Jared Cohen, the head of what was then the company’s Google Ideas division, wrote in a July 2012 email to several top Clinton officials.
He went on to write:
Our logic behind this is that while many people are tracking the atrocities, nobody is visually representing and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition.
Given how hard it is to get information into Syria right now, we are partnering with Al-Jazeera who will take primary ownership over the tool we have built, track the data, verify it, and broadcast it back into Syria.
Jared Cohen served as a member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff from 2006 to 2010. In her book No Higher Honor Condoleezza Rice spoke fondly of Cohen, describing him as a “young gun” and said his work in social media “would pay off handsomely… when Twitter and Facebook became accelerants of democratic change in the Middle East.”
Social media played a predominant role in the so-called “Arab Spring,” the concerted effort by the State Department, the Endowment for Democracy, USAID, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House to violently overthrow governments in the Middle East and North Africa.
In addition to Google, Facebook and Twitter were also involved in the effort to undermine governments in the region.
This is another reason why Hillary Clinton wants to keep her emails secret, and this is another reason why we should be wary of social media.