Whistleblower Edward Snowden answers questions about fake news, more via Twitter

edward snowden twitter qna featured
Whistleblower Edward Snowden took questions from the wider Twitterverse on Tuesday — via Periscope — and his responses were live-streamed to the world at large. The interviewer was Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, though the Q&A session was organized by a pro-Snowden organization, Pardon Snowden, which launched earlier this year to try and have him officially forgiven by the U.S. government.

The broadcast has thus far received more than 200,000 views, and can be replayed on the @PardonSnowden Twitter account, and on the desktop version of Periscope.

Edward Snowden is, of course, a somewhat polarizing figure. The ex-NSA contractor fled the U.S. three years ago with reams of secretive intelligence agency documents, files, and data. He’s been called a traitor as much as a whistleblower by the public, talking heads, and publications. Since then, he has revealed additional information-gathering schemes around the world, mainly through tools and tactics used by the NSA.

Snowden is living in exile in Russia, though he occasionally uses social networking and media tools to speak out to the wider world. This Q&A is just the latest in a series of public appearances, though it marks a rare instance when he allowed the public to ask him questions.

Twitter users were given the opportunity to submit their questions for Snowden using the “#AskSnowden” hashtag. Moderators went through the submissions, picking out the best ones to feed Dorsey, who in turn passed them along to Snowden.

During the course of the interview, Snowden was asked about his thoughts on a range of topics, including whether he thinks he’ll be handed over to the U.S. by Vladimir Putin’s government, his views on fake news, and the changes Twitter has been making to its service (about which he was notably frank).

On the subject of his extradition, Snowden remarked: “Will I be sent back to the U.S. and face a show trial and things like that? Is this gonna happen? I don’t know. Could it happen? Sure.” He continued: “Am I worried about it? Not really. I am very comfortable with the decision that I’ve made. I know I did the right thing. The institution of journalism believes I did the right thing.”

When quizzed by Dorsey about fake news, Snowden stated that he believes in “critical thinking” over any form of censorship of free speech. “The problem with fake news isn’t solved by hoping for a referee. But rather because we, as participants, as citizens, as users of these services, [need to] help each other,” Snowden said. “We point out what is fake, we point out what is true — the answer to bad speech is not censorship, the answer is more speech.”

As a Twitter user, he even spoke of the company’s recent updates to its platform, including its alterations to its core tweeting experience in order to allow users to do more with its 140-character limit. It’s safe to say that Dorsey may not have been thrilled with Snowden’s rather honest remarks about the service.

“Twitter has tried to expand what you can fit into tweets, which I think is an important effort, particularly when you talk about content,” said Snowden. “The fact that when you add a picture to a tweet, you lose 22 characters? That’s painful. Honestly, that’s terrible.”

He added: “But the problem is now, in many different clients — when people use mobile, when people use a browser this way or that way — suddenly the clicking-through actions don’t work anymore. It takes you out of the Twitter client, it takes you into the web browser. It breaks the user experience … I think that kind of unified, integrated experience really has an impact. People don’t like seeing the window change. … It should be in line, in stream.”

He even commented on the one feature many Twitter users have long been crying out for: the ability to edit tweets. “Surely, there’s got to be ways around this? Surely, there’s got to be a way that you can tag it as edited? If you click on the edit tab, you can see the previous versions of the tweets, and something like that,” suggested Snowden. “There’s got to be some ways to fix it out there. Just to correct things out there where people put a tweet out, it gets shared, and then they realize, ‘Oh it had a typo in it.'”

Snowden concluded by addressing Dorsey directly: “I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on Twitter,” he said. “You’ve probably got better ideas than I do.”

The Pardon Snowden organization is hoping the whistleblower’s latest series of appearances will help drum up interest in its cause. It recently announced that Mark Ruffalo had joined the ranks of celebrities asking for President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden before he leaves office early next year.

The group is also encouraging the general public to “take action,” by sending a prewritten correspondence to the White House, in accordance with partner organization Amnesty International.

Updated 12-13-2016 by Saqib Shah: Added info about the discussion between Snowden and Dorsey


Danny Thompson just set a land speed record in a 50-year-old car

Danny Thompson, son of the late racing legend Mickey Thompson, has just taken his dad's Challenger 2 streamliner to a breathtaking speed of 450 mph. The feat makes it the fastest piston-powered vehicle in the world.
Emerging Tech

‘There’s Waldo’ robot will find Waldo long before you can

There’s Waldo is the brain child of Matt Reed, a creative technologist at the creative agency Redpepper. Reed and his colleagues built the bot out of a uArm Swift Pro that’s controlled by a Raspberry Pi computer.
Emerging Tech

Watch this giant ‘Lego’ helicopter drone take to the skies

Adam Woodworth loves to build flying machines. His latest effort is a "Lego" helicopter created mainly from polystyrene foam, and which comes with a tiny drone attached to help get it airborne.
Movies & TV

The ultimate hunter arrives in a new TV spot for 'The Predator'

Iron Man 3 director Shane Black is rebooting the Predator movie franchise in 2018, so here's everything we know so far about the upcoming film The Predator, set to star Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, and Thomas Jane.

Here’s how to hide your active status on Instagram

The Activity Status mode on Instagram shows people whenever you are online, similar to Facebook Messenger. If that annoys you, here's how to hide your active status on Instagram with a quick settings change.

The Facebook dating service will be free of charge and free of ads

Facebook is getting into the dating game. While the feature was one of the surprises from this year's F8, new details suggest what the feature may entail, including a few screenshots from a computer programmer.

The numbers don’t lie: Facebook is faltering. So what will eventually replace it?

Facebook is faltering, and the data prove it. User growth is slowing, employee outlooks are dipping, and young people are looking elsewhere. But for Facebook to fail, an alternative must arise. Who will it be?
Social Media

Three million people quit Snapchat after the redesign

After a million users signed petitions to get the old Snapchat back, the network's user count is showing the early results of the changes with a three-million-user drop in daily active users.
Social Media

Facebook wants to help you find a mentor with its latest Groups feature

Facebook is designed for connecting to other people -- so why not mentors? Today, Facebook launched a program inside Groups that allows for two users to go through a mentorship program together.
Social Media

Facebook’s less cluttered friend list feeds are no more

Facebook friend feeds created a more curated news feed -- but not anymore. Facebook discontinued the feature, saying it wasn't widely used. The move will help the network focus on improving the news feed, the company says.

Starting a vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability.

For Monaris, it’s a photography career launched on an iPhone and Instagram

On Instagram, she's known just as Monaris. But street photographer Paola Franqui has built a following largely with an iPhone and a smile. We sat down with her to talk photography, style, and Instagram, of course.

Marco? Polo! Let's explore the app known as the 'video walkie-talkie'

Marco Polo has been dubbed the "video walkie-talkie," but how does the video messaging app stack up against competitors like Snapchat and Instagram? From unique filters to personalized video messages, we explore the Marco Polo app.
Social Media

Kids can now initiate a friend request on Messenger Kids by using a password

Facebook's messaging app for the under-13 crowd required parents, not kids, to initiate the process of adding a friend. Now kids can start the process by using a unique passphrase -- a feature that still requires parental approval.