Edward Snow­den on Sur­veil­lance, Fake News and Twitter


Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey conducted an online interview session on the live-streaming app Periscope with Edward Snowden on Tuesday which revolved around the whistleblower’s expose of the government’s mass surveillance, as he also suggested tweaks to the social networking site to combat the growing threat of surveillance.


The Q&A session, organised by the Pardon Snowden campaign, garnered north of 240,000 viewers for the session in which Snowden discussed extensively his expose, fake news on social media sites and how to safeguard the rights of citizens online.

“The answer to bad speech is not censorship. The answer to bad speech is more speech,” says Snowden.

Touching on the topic of fake news that went viral on Google, Facebook and the likes, Snowden mentioned that asking the social networks to police items is just going to curb free speech. Instead, the concerned person should be able to dis such news items personally on social media — discrediting the sites running them directly.

Snowden also pointed out that not only the United States but United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have been spying on their citizens using webcams on their personal computers.

During the interview, Snowden said, “The same technologies that are being used to connect us, to tie us together, to let you listen to this right now, are also being used to make records about your activity.”

The whistleblower told Dorsey that users should be allowed to edit their tweets after they’ve been sent out and to avoid any misunderstanding, an ‘edited’ tag can be used on those tweets — as Facebook does it.

“The clicking-through actions don’t work. It breaks the user experience,” Snowden said.

Talking what more the platform can implement to make the user experience better, Snowden said that opening outside links inside the Twitter platform will be helpful as it makes the experience of using the platform more seamless.

Given President-elect Donald Trump’s predicament on surveillance and how he wishes to implement it further to ‘safeguard’ the national interests. Twitter is ready to take steps to counter it, and Snowden had a tip for the social media network.

After the hour-long interview, Snowden, in the spirit of his anti-surveillance attitude, tweeted to Jack asking for a greater encryption on direct messages on Twitter.

“Everybody who worked for the secret agencies swore an oath which said that they’d support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic — to make sure that our constitutional rights aren’t violated — but quite the opposite has been happening post 9/11”, Snowden stated during the interview.

Snowden follows only one account via his Twitter ID — @NSAGov — and he points out that this is being done so that the government doesn’t follow accounts he interacts with; majorly to safeguard trends/people/news he is following.

Twitter hasn’t been invested in the government’s efforts towards surveillance and that is pretty evident as CEO Jack Dorsey hasn’t been invited to meet the President-elect at Trump Towers in New York, where top tech company executives like Satya Nadella, Tim Cook, Larry Page, Sheryl Sandberg, Chuck Robbings, Ginni Rometty, Brian Krzanich and Safra Catz, among others, might be discussing issues surrounding social media, surveillance and encryption.

Mass surveillance has been on the rise and Edward Snowden believes that the only way to curb it is to take a strong stand against it by protecting your safety using encryption methods.

Expressing that he had no regrets for his past actions of exposing government surveillance, he said, “I provided evidence of this kind of activities, these mass surveillance activities to journalists and I’d be willing to do it again.”

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Bike enthusiast, traveller, ManUtd follower, army brat, word-smith; Delhi University, Asian College of Journalism, Cardiff University alumnus; a journalist breathing tech these days.