Edward Snowden just joined Twitter. He’s already creating a stir

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Can you hear me now?’ Edward Snowden joins Twitter, follows NSA.

With five simple words, Edward Snowden has re-engaged with his allies and his enemies, revived the issue of domestic surveillance, and quite possibly, injected the issue of mass government surveillance into the 2016 presidential campaign conversation. Edward Snowden, who is in Moscow, is seen on a giant screen during a live video conference for an interview as part of Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights campaign at the Gaite Lyrique in Paris Dec. 10, 2014. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau) Snowden, who posted his first tweet Tuesday, had amassed 1.03 million followers by late Wednesday morning.

Snowden, the fugitive former National Security Agency contractor who leaked details about the US government’s massive surveillance programs, started a Twitter account on Tuesday from exile in Russia with a simple handle — @snowden. In an interview on HLN tied to the recent launch of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s Twitter account, Hendren, a Snowden supporter, defended Snowden as “doing the most patriotic possible thing” — and scorned America for casting him out.

Snowden’s initial tweet was “Can you hear me now?” The message, a take-off on a cellphone provider television commercial, was retweeted 25 000 times in an hour. The whistleblower also exchanged tweets with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, joking about the recent discovery of flowing salty water on Mars. “And now we’ve got water on Mars! But Snowden himself was following only one other Twitter account — his former employer’s. “Meanwhile, a thousand people at Fort Meade just opened Twitter,” Snowden said in a tweet, referring to the US Army base in Maryland that is the home of the NSA.

Snowden has started on Twitter in a low-key manner – no selfies so far – and has limited his posts to the informational, inspirational, jokey kind of thing. Snowden uncovered in his controversial leak was a secret court order ordering Verizon to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its system. After the interviewer showed Hendren a clip of John Oliver questioning Snowden about leaking classified and potentially harmful information, she asked him: “Do you think those actions were worth that risk?” Then he switched gears. “But I think to cast him out and to make him invalid in society, simply because he has scissors for hands… Like other high-profile people on the messaging service, Snowden’s account has a blue and white check mark, indicating that it was verified by Twitter.

I mean, that’s kind of strange, because I mean people didn’t get scared until he started sculpting shrubs into dinosaur shapes and whatnot.” Somehow remaining completely calm, the interviewer continued without acknowledging that Hendren had pivoted from discussing Edward Snowden to Edward Scissorhands. And his background wallpaper is composed of photos of front page news articles stating that the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals had found the bulk collection of Americans’ phone data was illegal. Within his first hours on Twitter, Snowden entertained followers with an interesting exchange with American astrophysicist and television host Neil de Grasse Tyson, who welcomed the controversial figure to Twitter. As the exchange, which displayed Snowden’s humor and may have served to attract more followers, showed, joining Twitter was a smart move for the former intelligence contractor.

Based on an algorithm that looked at Twitter posts mentioning Snowden or his official Twitter handle, there were about 1,109 positive tweets versus 156 negative, a ratio of about 7 to 1, within the first hour of his initial tweet. From what we can see the list is a who’s who of civil liberties people, and the first page includes characters from the American Civil Liberties Union through to Kim Dotcom, and Kim Dotcom’s lawyer. Graham Cluley is there, as are the good burghers of Liberty and the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, and Jimmy Wales and Julia O’Dwyer, Richard O’Dwyer’s mum. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles. We expect that the Snowden feed will be low on photos of lunches, talk about BAEs, gourd-spiced coffees and cat and arse selfies, but we reckon that it is probably one worth following, particularly if you like to be kept in the light about privacy and surveillance, and maybe Martians.

Twitter can do strange things to people, though, and it is possible that within a few weeks the account will be engaged in full-on cyber beef with One Direction, or Blackberry fans, and that many of the tweets will feature links to soundcloud and the ‘soundscapes’ that he has started to produce at home on a keyboard. µ

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