Leaking thousands of top secret US and UK government documents exposing mass surveillance has obvious drawbacks, but, apparently, being hunted across the globe by the United States government isn’t the only uncomfortable kind of attention a high-profile whistleblower gets.
On Monday, Edward Snowden gave us a hint of what it means to be famous on Twitter.
TheEdward Snowden January 18, 2016
Snowden’s tweet is carefully vague, but you can read between the lines: fans have been sending him nude pics via Twitter, and he’s warning them that he’s not the only one seeing them, given that the FBI probably has a warrant on his DMs. Also, the hashtag reminds everyone that he has a girlfriend.
I asked Snowden to clarify, asking him whether his tweet meant what I thought it meant, but he initially did not respond to my Twitter DM. (Motherboard’s own Rachel Pick suggested I send a “belfie”—butt selfie—to Snowden to get his attention, but I thought that wouldn’t be very professional.) On Wednesday, however, Snowden slid into my DMs with a response: "I can neither confirm nor deny it means exactly what you think it means."
You might find it surprising that random strangers would send Snowden nudes, but I guess that’s the price of being famous—people will slide into your DMs in weird ways, or express their admiration calling you “daddy” on Twitter.
Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s, is probably glad Twitter wasn’t around back then.
This story has been updated to include Snowden's response.