Edward Snowden: The Tweeting Habits of a Whistleblower in Exile

Edward Snowden speaks via video conference to people in the Johns Hopkins University auditorium in February. Edward Snowden speaks via video conference to people in the Johns Hopkins University auditorium in February. Juliet Linderman/AP

Edward Snowden may be in exile from the US after leaking explosive government documents, but he’s still engaging with his fellow Americans from his computer in Moscow. He’s given speeches and shown up at conferences, such as his virtual appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January via a screen-on-wheels robot.

He’s also on Twitter, with over two million followers, and posts on topics ranging from government surveillance to the US’s new pick for the $20 bill this week.

As Twitter itself noted when he joined the service last September, Snowden’s voice travels far on the messaging service.

With Snowden on Twitter now for over six months, Quartz decided to look for any patterns in how he’s used the service that shed light on his life in exile. To do so, we analyzed data on each tweet he’s sent, including retweets and replies.

Among the things we wondered, is he keeping US hours from Russia? Can we tell what the 32-year-old’s sleep patterns look like?

If we can infer his schedule from the chart above, Snowden is indeed keeping pretty normal hours on Moscow Time. Actually, his sleep schedule vaguely resembles that of a college student. He’s usually asleep (not tweeting) by 1am, and seems to typically be up (and back on the internet) between 8am and 11am. The majority of his tweets are sent between noon and 1am Moscow Time, which is between 5am and 6pm Eastern Standard Time.

When we count all of Snowden’s tweets by day, we see he’s most prolific on Wednesdays, and the day he’s on the internet the least is Friday—not Saturday or Sunday. There isn’t much we can infer from this, except that perhaps life on the lam doesn’t include a lot of weekend parties.

We should be able to tell more over time, with more data. But there is one thing that doesn’t require sophisticated analysis: who Snowden is following. On Twitter he follows just one other account: the National Security Agency, the US intelligence organization whose classified documents he went on to release.

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