Following Edward Snowden is now only a click away. A few days ago Snowden broke the Internet by joining the social media platform.

But why join Twitter now?

Ryerson professor Alvner Levin, who specializes in online privacy and social media, said he thinks Snowden wants to be in the news.

“He has stated his purpose that he wants to be out there, and he wants other people to want to be able to follow him without limitation” Levin said.

Snowden’s choice to have a public Twitter account hints at his intention and desire to be public. After all, he could’ve chosen to protect his tweets and have a private account. Instead, his account accepts direct messages and tweets from anyone, and his Twitter handle is his real name rather than an alias.

Levin said he suspects it’s possible that Snowden may be trying to be more legitimate to the American public.

“Especially if he’s thinking down the line to return to the United States, this would help him,” Levin said.

Yesterday Snowden tweeted that he had forgotten to change his Twitter notifications and accrued 47 gigabites of email notifications from his Twitter interactions.

“By virtue of the act of socializing, you’re wanting to interact with other people, and that means you’re sharing some information with people,” Levin said. “In his (Snowden’s) case, I think he just wants to engage the greater public.”

Snowden’s added presence on Twitter does not add or remove to his increasing surveillance, Levin said. “It (Twitter) doesn’t make him any more vulnerable because they (the American government) already have the capacity to track him.”

The ability for Twitter to hand any information that deemed suspicious to government officials is not just true for Snowden — it goes for any twitter user. According to the Twitter Privacy Policy, Twitter reserves the right to “disclose any information about you to government or law enforcement officials or private parties as they deem necessary in order to protect the property and rights of Twitter or a third party.”

Russia granted Snowden asylum in 2013, but the whistleblower has been under extreme surveillance since leaking classified documents earlier that year. He continues to make occasional appearances using video streams, and now, thanks to Twitter, he’s a tweet away from anyone with internet access.

Multimedia Journalist and Human Rights Advocate. Currently completing her MA in Journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.

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