The 29-year-old systems administrator who proudly admitted Sunday to one of the largest breaches of government secrecy in American history appeared to come out of nowhere: He spent his short career in the secret government, not the front lines of the civil liberties fight.
But Edward Snowden's political views, his value system, and his earnest commitment to seeing those values through appear to take at least some of their inspiration from the vast community site Reddit, a place Snowden mentioned in passing in a Sunday interview.
Snowden cited a movement to restore the Fourth Amendment — which bars unreasonable searches and seizures — organized on a subreddit, r/RestoreTheFourth. He voted for libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul. And the Reddit community has already begun to embrace Snowden as one of its own.
The Guardian revealed on Sunday that the man responsible for the largest leak in National Security Administration history was a 29-year-old technical assistant for the CIA named Edward Snowden.
Little is known about Snowden's social media presence. There haven't been any real accounts associated with Snowden to surface, yet.
But it does appear that Snowden browsed social news site Reddit.com. In The Guardian's profile of Snowden, he mentions a subreddit called /r/RestoreTheFourth:
"It is not like Occupy Wall Street but there is a grassroots movement to take to the streets on July 4 in defence of the Fourth Amendment called Restore The Fourth Amendment and it grew out of Reddit. The response over the internet has been huge and supportive."
According to the subreddit's mission statement, /r/RestoreTheFourth was organized around the goal of increasing transparency in the government:
If you agree with these demands, then please subscribe:
1) By exercising our right to vote and peacefully protest, the removal from office of any official in government who acted against our fourth amendment rights. No apologies, no amends, simply removal from office.
2) Repeal the patriot act and other similar laws. If our currently elected representatives will not do so (highly unlikely), than we shall in the course of time elect those who will.
3) The implementation of a transparent government which respects the fourth amendment and represents the interests of the people of the United States of America.
It is time to take our country back!
The fact that Snowden read /r/RestoreTheFourth isn't the only thing tying him to Reddit, however.
He also contributed to Ron Paul in 2012.
Reddit users were extremely vocal in their support of Ron Paul during the 2012 election cycle.
And his libertarian leanings match up to Reddit's political belief system. The /r/Libertarian subreddit has over 88,000 subscribers and is one of the larger political communities on the site.
Redditors have already embraced Edward Snowden as one of their own.
It's still unclear, though, if Snowden ever had an account or was even an active user on the site.
They're also hoping that Snowden will be able to do an AMA on the site from his hotel room in China.
There have even been a few memes with Snowden popping up Sunday evening.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian seems to think it's only a matter of time before Snowden's user history is discovered.
Although, it seems likely that if Snowden was an active user on Reddit, his account was deleted before his identity was made public.
Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Ryan Broderick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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