Involuntary expat Edward Snowden spent part of his afternoon today in a live Q&A with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Posted by the @pardonsnowden account, the video was ostensibly part of a campaign to, well, pardon Snowden. Dorsey thought this would be a good opportunity to ask for some user feedback on his microblogging platform from a man trapped in Russian.
Snowden, for whatever it’s worth, only follows one account (@NSAgov) and is not what you’d call a power user or expert on social platforms.
Without a doubt, Snowden’s whistleblowing was an important milestone in learning just how intrusive and extensive the US government’s spying efforts are on its own citizens. That’s where his usefulness begins and ends, though it hasn’t stopped him from spouting off about stupid shit, and Twitter is no exception. While trying to pull my eardrums out I distinctly heard Snowden posit during the Q&A that “the answer to bad speech is more speech,” the meaning of which is deliriously opaque.
Snowden has thoughts on Twitter. He has opinions. He thinks most people consider retweets to be endorsements. He thinks links shouldn’t detract from the 140 character limit on tweets. He thinks a lot of things, and I don’t know why people keep asking him about them.
“The clicking-through actions don’t work. It breaks the user experience,” Snowden told Dorsey when asked what improvements he’d make to the 10-year-old product absolutely no one wants to buy. According to Snowden, links in tweets are bad — for some reason — and are worse on mobile. He concluded his hazy, meaningless description of doing something (but what?) on Twitter with: “I think that kind of unified experience has an impact.”
Without prompting, Ed also brought up the potential for editing tweets. “The risks I do understand,” he said, drawing from his vast well of knowledge on business, marketing, social dynamics, and internet etiquette. Don’t worry, he’s got it all figured out — an [EDITED] tag that shows previous versions of tweets, just like Wikipedia. That one’s free, Jack. You’re welcome.
The interview took place on Periscope, the video broadcasting platform we all forgot about. We’d embed the video here, but hey, Periscope doesn’t do that. (More feedback!) Gizmodo cannot in good conscience recommend you watch the nearly one hour video.