Edward Snowden, the notorious whistleblower who leaked a massive trove of top secret documents from the United States’ National Security Agency two years ago, officially joined Twitter at noon eastern standard time on Tuesday. His handle is @Snowden.
In an interview last week with Fusion‘s Kashmir Hill, Snowden hinted that he might soon join social media. “You’re obviously on the internet a ton,” Hill said, premising her question. “Why are you not blogging or tweeting?”
Snowden in turn replied that he has strict operational security reasons for staying off social networks. In a nutshell, they collect too much data on users, he said.
“Facebook, for example,” he said, “databases how long you’re on each page, what posts you click on, what pictures you’ve seen, and they store this permanently.” Plus, he added: “exploit codes [could be embedded] into transactions I’m receiving from a legitimate service and compromise the security of my devices.”
Nevertheless, he concluded, he is “looking forward to, hopefully, participating [on social networks] in a more open and active manner in the near future.” Apparently, that time is now.
Earlier today he posted his first tweet: “Can you hear me now?” A joking nod, one might guess, to the tagline of “the Verizon (VZN) guy,” a former spokesman for the telecommunications giant.
The astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson conducted an interview with the NSA contractor turned mega-leaker earlier this month, too. In Part two of that session, which appeared Friday night on Tyson’s “star talk” radio show, the two discussed the micro-blogging service.
“You kind of need a Twitter handle. So like @Snowden, maybe? Is this something you might do?” Tyson asked.
“That sounds good,” Snowden said. “I think we’ve got to make it happen.”
“You and I will be Twitter buddies,” he continued. “Your followers will be: the Internet, me, and the NSA.”
In a preemptive move, Snowden followed the NSA’s official account “@NSAGov” shortly after joining. (See photo above.) As of the writing of this post, the NSA has not—at least officially—returned the follow.
Snowden’s first conversation also engaged Tyson, who welcomed “the man behind global mass surveillance revelations.”
According to The Intercept, which cites Snowden’s lawyer, Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union, Snowden is indeed the man behind the @Snowden handle. “The @Snowden handle had been taken by someone who hadn’t used it in three years,” writes Intercept reporter Dan Froomkin. “So Twitter was contacted, and agreed to turn it over to Snowden himself.”
Kudos, Mr. Snowden. Fortune still can’t even get its hands on @Fortune!
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