Twitter will not help Trump build his proposed database of Muslim-Americans.
Edward Snowden, currently in exile in Russia for leaking classified government documents about the NSA’s covert surveillance of U.S. citizens, had a question-and-answer session with Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, via Periscope, the live video app owned by Twitter.
It wasn’t really a conversation. Dorsey essentially gave Snowden a massive platform — over 150,000 people watched — to broadcast his opinions about why government surveillance is wrong and why technology companies should not participate.
Dorsey’s decision to host Snowden was a bold move in the run-up to President-elect Trump’s inauguration. Airing such a divisive political figure as Snowden sends a clear message to the incoming president that Twitter will not participate in dragnet government surveillance programs that bypass due process.
“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,” Snowden said. “Recording the activities of someone creates vulnerabilities for them.”
Throughout his campaign, Trump called for increased digital surveillance, as well as a federal registry of Muslim-Americans. While other major tech companies have refused to comment about whether they plan to participate if asked to hand over data to build a database specifically profiling Muslim-Americans, Twitter said it definitely would not.
Tomorrow, Trump will host a roundtable discussion at Trump Tower in New York City with top executives from internet companies, most of whom supported Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton. Tim Cook, Larry Page, Sheryl Sandberg and Elon Musk are all expected to attend.
Despite the fact that Donald Trump loves Twitter and used it incessantly to speak directly with the electorate throughout his campaign, Twitter’s CEO did not receive an invitation to the meeting, Recode reported earlier today.
Twitter was one of the rare social media companies that did not participate in the NSA’s Prism surveillance program, unlike Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and others that were implicated after Snowden’s disclosures were made public in 2013.
During the interview, Snowden offered his perspective on how social media platforms should tackle the problem of fake news, which, he said, “isn’t solved by hoping for a referee, but rather because we as participants, we as citizens, we as users of these services help each other. We talk and we share and we point out what is fake. We point out what is good.
“The answer to bad speech is not censorship. The answer to bad speech is more speech,” Snowden said. “We have to exercise and spread the idea that critical thinking matters now more than ever given the fact that lies seem to be getting very popular.”
Watch the entire interview on Periscope here.
— Pardon Snowden (@PardonSnowden) December 13, 2016