Recently, Edward Snowden, scourge of the National Security Agency, was pulled into a Twitter group chat of teenage cheerleaders and competitive dancers, an unexpected consequence of being an infamous whistleblower.
Snowden, who introduced himself as Ed — "Not a big fan of formality," he said — had just one question for these enterprising kids:
Where do you get your news?
Most adults who are pulled into random roving group chats full of Twitter teens don't have time to keep in touch with the crew throughout the day. This is not a problem if you're currently serving out your asylum, like Snowden is — a situation that might give you some extra hours to go through your inbox.
I went inquiring after the secret teen chat, and was suddenly pulled into the world of Taylor, Talia, Gabby and an assortment of curious "olds" who were pulled into the discussion at one point or another.
Once embedded, I showed the group some modeling pics of Snowden when he was a teenager.
"His modeling photos are the single greatest thing I have ever seen — he should really abandon scamming for a full time modeling career," Abby Misbin, who identifies as Queen of the Memes and "part time scam lord," told Mic in a direct message.
Misbin says the group chat initially took off after she trolled the group to "talk about how Avril Lavigne is apart of an elaborate death hoax."
I asked the group what they would have said to Snowden had he stuck around longer in the chat. What words did the youth have for the world's most wanted man?
"He's the most savage scammer," Gabby Popoli, who had never heard of him before he popped into the chat, told me in the chat. "He's a legend."
"^^," the others instantaneously agreed, adding that he seems cool and that he's a savage.
Snowden willfully ducked out of the chat after a few minutes. He admitted that he has a warrant on him, to put it lightly: "You might not want to include me in your DMs unless you want them [the FBI] to have copies of them," he wrote. "Stay free out there."
Twitter DMs are regularly subject to warrants by law enforcement. The dancers, for their part, wanted Snowden to stay.
As for Snowden's question, most of the members of the group chat said that they get their news from Twitter. Technically, research shows that another answer to Snowden's question could have been Facebook, the primary source of news media for young Americans.
We've reached out to Edward Snowden to ask about his experience roaming the underground world of teen group chats and whether he has a special message for Generation Z, and we will update if we hear back.