Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hosted a virtual Q&A with former U.S. National Security Agency contractor and whistle blower, Edward Snowden, at the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco Tuesday to chat about privacy, Twitter and the current state of journalism.
Viewers tuned into the livestream via the Pardon Snowden Twitter account, and submitted questions using the hashtag #AskSnowden.
Snowden, the world's most famous whistleblower-in-exile, described himself as a "privacy advocate" during the chat, and gave a shout out to journalists, especially newspaper reporters who "let us know the truth about the world."
"There aren't a lot of journalists who get into journalism to get rich," he said.
Snowden joined Twitter in 2015, two years after he flew to Russia following espionage charges by the U.S. government. As of today, he is believed to be still living in an undisclosed location in Russia. Depending on who you ask, Snowden has been called a hero, a traitor, a dissident and a patriot.
"There are few things I enjoy more than reading a book, but I am a child of the internet," he said, adding how he loves to stay connected to the digital world.
"How do you make sure current and future generations never treat government surveillance as normal?" was one of the questions that came up.
"It's gonna be a challenge," Snowden said, explaining that individual voices are ultimately weaker than government organizations."How do we have private communications, protected conversations between families, between a newspaper and its readers ... We might need to use technology to find solutions we've never seen."
At one point, Dorsey asked Snowden about feedback on Twitter: "What would you like to see us do? What would you like to see us improve?"
"There’s a lot of controversy about editing tweets. The risks I do understand," Snowden said. "But surely there are ways around this. Oh, I made a typo. Oh, that wasn’t exactly what I wanted to say. Wanting to be a little more careful, or clear, I think those are all things that would provide a lot of value."
Several high-profile appeals through the Pardon Snowden campaign have asked President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden this year, including those from Steve Wozniak, George Soros, Daniel Ellsberg, Neil Gaiman, and Dorsey himself.
Snowden recently appeared via video from Russia during Fusion's "Real Future Fair" in Oakland, calling president-elect Donald Trump "dangerous." He told his audience the future rests in the hands of the people, and not Trump.
"If you want to build a better future, you’re going to have to do it yourself,” he said. “Politics will only take you so far."
Snowden is scheduled to appear in a City Arts & Lectures video conversation with Daniel Ellsberg at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco on February 26