Should AskMe be used to help locate Edward Snowden? June 10, 2013 9:34 AM   Subscribe

This AskMe Question seems to be an attempt to find Edward Snowden's hotel in Honk Kong. He's since checked-out, so the issue isn't pressing, but I think we should discuss whether that's a use of Ask Metafilter with which we are comfortable. I personally sympathize with Mr. Snowden and think we should avoid providing crowd-sourced help to the CIA and others who may be seeking him. I recognize Mr. Snowden hasn't made much of an attempt to hide his location and the CIA doesn't really need our help.
posted by Area Man to Etiquette/Policy at 9:34 AM (81 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I don't think that question was an attempt to find the exact hotel, the poster wrote a comment saying that he was just curious about the location. Which makes sense given the shot he was asking about.

Greenwald's piece quoted Snowden as saying that he was very near the Hong Kong CIA station ("We have got a CIA station just up the road - the consulate here in Hong Kong") and, yeah, everyone and anyone in intelligence, certainly US intelligence, who cared could and probably did identify which hotel and which room he was in shortly after the Guardian piece appeared. Probably before that, really, as I bet they already knew who he was and had tracked his location down, given the content of the leak and that he was on leave from his job and authorities had already contacted his girlfriend.

If you're concerned about civilians knowing his exact location, well, that's a more reasonable concern but, as you say, he's left, anyway.

So the real interest in that question seems to me to be hey, this is a neat location, where exactly is that?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:51 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The picture is of a large, public location easily identifiable by people familiar with Hong Kong. It is also very likely just stock footage used by the Guardian as an intro.

So whereas I understand your argument, I think it is less relevant here than if we were trying to pin down the location of some accidentally leaked shot of some obscure interior.
posted by vacapinta at 9:51 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought about this myself. There is no way of ascertaining whether anyone's motivations for asking questions are pure, acceptable to all, etc. For instance, if someone were to ask for the fastest way to get from point A to point B should we first determine whether this information will help someone to escape after robbing a bank? Are all of us who we claim to be?
posted by mareli at 9:52 AM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think the CIA has better resources at their disposal, we're not going to be affecting things one way or another.
posted by corb at 9:55 AM on June 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Are all of us who we claim to be?

Woof woof woof, arf!

Er, sorry, I meant: of course!
posted by yoink at 9:56 AM on June 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Playing devil's advocate:

Dude broke the law in a premeditated way. Why shouldn't crowdsourcing be used to find him?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:57 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is absolutely no way the CIA is depending on Metafilter to find him.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:58 AM on June 10, 2013 [14 favorites]


Do you really think MeFi isn't just some massive front for the CIA's data-gathering? Wake Up Sheeple!!!
posted by hydatius at 9:59 AM on June 10, 2013 [46 favorites]


Playing devil's advocate:

Dude broke the law in a premeditated way. Why shouldn't crowdsourcing be used to find him?


Because until law enforcement asks for the public's help specifically (like when they released the two photos of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers), it would pretty much just be unfocused vigilantism - something with which the internet has sort of a spotty track record.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:03 AM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I can understand having a sense of concern about digging up specific details on people but this as you note is not exactly a pressing example of that notional problem. The CIA has far better resources than Ask Metafilter to work with on a manhunt and we're not exactly sending them huggy vibes in any case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:03 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where are the Snowdens of yesterday?
posted by octobersurprise at 10:04 AM on June 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


We're going to need a photo to find them.
posted by Etrigan at 10:07 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, am I the only person who keeps thinking of him as Jon Snow from the critically acclaimed HBO series, Game of Thrones?Their appearance is somewhat similar, as is the name.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:09 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ned Snow! Wintermute is coming.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:18 AM on June 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Man was matter, that was Snowden's secret. Drop him out a window and he'll fall. Set fire to him and he'll burn. Bury him and he'll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage.

There, there.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:19 AM on June 10, 2013


<ygritte>Edward Snuuuuuuuuuedon</ygritte>
posted by Justinian at 10:20 AM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Dude broke the law in a premeditated way.

So says you.

I would argue it shouldn't be illegal to inform others of illegal activities, but until one of us is on his jury it's a moot point.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:22 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dude broke the law in a premeditated way. Why shouldn't crowdsourcing be used to find him?

Last I checked "dude" was alleged to have broken the law, as we still have the right to a trial. As for defining "crowdsourcing" into a far-right online lynch mob, count me out, thanks.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:29 AM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the CIA has better resources at their disposal, we're not going to be affecting things one way or another.
posted by corb


The collapse of the Soviet Union caught the CIA completely by surprise, as did the USSR's development of nuclear weapons, which they expected to take 10-20 years longer than it did.

I knew you had a low opinion of us, corb, but really!

The CIA has far better resources than Ask Metafilter to work with on a manhunt and we're not exactly sending them huggy vibes in any case.
posted by cortex (staff)


Et tu, cortex?
posted by jamjam at 10:30 AM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dude broke the law in a premeditated way.

Maybe don't turn this thread into a Snowden-thread-by-proxy, please?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:34 AM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Eh, crowdsourcing at least makes their job easier but I do think there are plenty of speculators on other websites and forums, notably more popular ones like reddit that have likely already pinpointed his location. Though, who knows, maybe with AskMe's track record it's become a goto repository of CIA/NSA intel for whether or not their agents should wear their baseball caps indoors or if Paula should just DTMFA already.
posted by dubusadus at 10:35 AM on June 10, 2013


So whereas I understand your argument, I think it is less relevant here than if we were trying to pin down the location of some accidentally leaked shot of some obscure interior.

I guess I'm just hoping that we wouldn't help out under that scenario.
posted by Area Man at 10:37 AM on June 10, 2013


I'm suddenly feeling really weird about all the time I've spent playing GeoGuessr recently.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:39 AM on June 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


The CIA has far better resources than Ask Metafilter to work with on a manhunt

I just wish we had never deleted as chatfilter that question about "should I invade Iraq?"
posted by shothotbot at 10:44 AM on June 10, 2013 [35 favorites]


Interestingly enough, his hotel was identified on Twitter a few minutes after the newspaper profile was released, based on the lamp in the background.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:49 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The lamps are working for the CIA!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:53 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]



Eh, crowdsourcing at least makes their job easier but I do think there are plenty of speculators


So the best thing would be to speculate away then ...

For instance, I'm pretty sure that's not Hong Kong at all. In fact, it reminds me of Steveston, BC, which would make sense, because a friend of mine says he thinks he just saw the guy outside a liquor store in Hope, BC. And then this happened.
posted by philip-random at 11:02 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


maybe don't turn this thread into a Snowden-thread-by-proxy, please?

(is there one on the go currently? I'm asking for ...a friend)
posted by Hoopo at 11:03 AM on June 10, 2013


Snowden thread.
posted by Justinian at 11:05 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The CIA has far better resources than Ask Metafilter to work with on a manhunt and we're not exactly sending them huggy vibes in any case

The proper terms in a denial must include a combination of "no backdoor into our servers"; "direct access to our servers"; or "voluntarily disclose user information".
posted by Mitheral at 11:10 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


"You know nothing plenty, Ed Snowden."
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:20 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Snowden thread.

Thanks for that. I wasn't aware there was a thread, because I had been expecting it to be titled along the lines of "traitor endangers millions; runs away to Hong Kong" instead of the hero-worship I see there.

Anyway, its going to take me some time to prepare a proper response.
posted by Curious Artificer at 11:25 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh goody, that's something I'm sure everyone will look forward to.
posted by rtha at 11:27 AM on June 10, 2013 [22 favorites]


Oh great, another sacred cow.
posted by Artw at 11:34 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyway, its going to take me some time to prepare a proper response.

Keep us posted!!!!
posted by shakespeherian at 11:42 AM on June 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


I feel sorry for his girlfriend. He didn't tell her anything, and now she'll never see him again. Hope she wasn't deeply in love with him and she can move on quickly.

Hope she'll DTMFA. Give the woman an honorary Metafilter account so we can offer her support.
posted by discopolo at 11:55 AM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh great, another sacred cow.


Stay on the sunny side, dude. Think of it as an opportunity to build a lovely barn. Cows have big brown eyes and give milk. Mad respect yo.
posted by discopolo at 11:56 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honk Kong.
posted by helicomatic at 12:30 PM on June 10, 2013


Honk Kong.

Whoops. Sorry.

I feel sorry for his girlfriend. He didn't tell her anything, and now she'll never see him again. Hope she wasn't deeply in love with him and she can move on quickly.

Hope she'll DTMFA. Give the woman an honorary Metafilter account so we can offer her support.


Maybe she's already a member and we'll see a question ("My boyfriend fled to Hong Kong after leaking classified U.S. intelligence information...")
posted by Area Man at 12:42 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


The fact that CIA has superior resources doesn't seem relevant, to me, to whether something is an appropriate use of AskMe. Without expressing any opinion on Snowden, I agree with the general concern of this MeTa.
posted by cribcage at 12:45 PM on June 10, 2013


I'm thinking the Ask OP is Snowden's grilfriend, hopefully the CIA will answer.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:55 PM on June 10, 2013


Mefi's own CIA.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:56 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


cortex: "The CIA has far better resources than Ask Metafilter to work with"

The Iraq war suggests that this may not be true.
posted by schmod at 1:10 PM on June 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Is it too late to get on the Springer show?

I'm with the guys that don't want to see him lynched. But I suspect he won't be able to evade arrest once the warrants are signed. The CIA doesn't need my help, and anyhow I wouldn't.

To those whose vision of the US doesn't include heinous behavior, I offer the treatment of Manning as an example--isolation, humiliation, and all that before he's even gotten a trial....maybe Snowden should be kept in public view. All the time. The trick here is that the gubment sometimes is horrified to notice that unstable employees do foul deeds, but fortunately they are usually far enough down on the totem pole that a few scapegoats they are identified as bad apples and fired.

My tentative fantasy is that Snowden could get asylum, somehow, perhaps sort of like Rushdie did (but, no, not in England). Hell, Rushdie pissed off some folks who seriously lack any kind of a sense of humor, and he's still alive--even thriving. You'd think that having Americans after you wouldn't be such a bad deal, yeah?

And, yeah, to me the issue is ae moral imperative challenging an unjust government. This is the stuff that the term "traitor" hangs on. One cannot remain neutral, but you need to be ready to change your mind when you are presented with the facts. Ironic, though, is that "the facts" are not necessarily ever going to be forthcoming. The government doesn't need to defend itself. It just needs to keep the lid on and wait for the next news cycle.

Speaking to Area Man's question: Our involvement is really part of what this is all about, isn't it? I want to go back to my nap. When I wake up, Jon Steward will be back, and he can have Snowden on his show. Business as usual. I'll be incensed later, then, down the road, I'll become alarmed when they start coming for my neighbors, ect & so on.

Folks, we are frogs
not yet come to a boil.
Croak later.
posted by mule98J at 1:11 PM on June 10, 2013


Without expressing any opinion on Snowden, I agree with the general concern of this MeTa.

I find it kind of ironic, but I can't quite wrap my head around why. It's like the guy wants transparency, but we're concerned with obscuring his possible location. Then there's the whole issue of the fact he was concerned about people's data and whether it should be private.

I come down on the side of anti-outing though and don't really care if the CIA has better methods of finding the guy. I don't think we should celebrity stalk.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:18 PM on June 10, 2013


It's like the guy wants transparency, but we're concerned with obscuring his possible location.

Worse! He wants transparency but is somehow against the NSA reading all my Facebook messages! How much more transparent can you get amirite
posted by shakespeherian at 1:22 PM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think we should celebrity stalk.

The problem is that is particular case isn't a thoughtful example. Snowden has left the location and indirectly gave away it away in interviews.

There's plenty of whatifs and maybes that can be asked, but speculating about situations that haven't happened isn't the mod's style usually. So it's all up in the air, in the sense that there's no definitive answer about this particular example.

The original question isn't the best in the world, but it seems relatively harmless and no ill will can come of it at this point. Move along people, move along!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:23 PM on June 10, 2013


It's like the guy wants transparency, but we're concerned with obscuring his possible location.

Transparency in GOVERNMENT. Very different from transparency in the sense of everyone's information being accessible to anyone all the time.
posted by Hoopo at 1:37 PM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


we're not exactly sending them huggy vibes

In a press release, the CEO1 of MetaFilter has stated clearly that the NSA2 does not have "direct backdoor access to our huggy vibes" and that "statements that MetaTalk is offering hugs on an unprecedented scale are false, period".

1Chief Emotional Officer
2National Shmoopy Agency

I think we should discuss whether that's a use of Ask Metafilter with which we are comfortable.

I think we should discuss the passive-aggressive phrasing of this MeTa. Not because of how I feel about it, of course, but there may have been concerns expressed that it could be problematic.
posted by hattifattener at 2:02 PM on June 10, 2013


I recognize Mr. Snowden hasn't made much of an attempt to hide his location...

You're making a pretty big assumption there, i.e., that he is where he says he is.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:13 PM on June 10, 2013


Hell, Rushdie pissed off some folks who seriously lack any kind of a sense of humor, and he's still alive--even thriving
Whom did Rushdie endanger, other than himself?
posted by Ideefixe at 3:11 PM on June 10, 2013


I think the CIA has better resources at their disposal, we're not going to be affecting things one way or another.

Based on the quality of detective work I've seen from Metafilter, I wouldn't be so sure.
posted by John Cohen at 3:17 PM on June 10, 2013


Transparency in GOVERNMENT.

Yes. And in case anyone's unclear on why there's a different standard for government: (1) we're forced to subsidize it, and (2) it has a very strong and frequently used power to unilaterally ruin people's lives.
posted by John Cohen at 3:19 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the CIA has better resources at their disposal, we're not going to be affecting things one way or another.

On the one hand, I think that it's kind of funny talking about whether the NSA or CIA would be watching AskMe to aid in finding Snowden when the case isn't really about "watching" but instead about data mining, and as material being data-mined, AskMe actually might be useful, as would a place like Facebook, or Reddit. AskMe is also an open database, so anything useful is more likely to be found sooner. Not that I'm concerned, just thinking about how the case is talked about being different than some of the technical details.
posted by Toekneesan at 3:25 PM on June 10, 2013


octobersurprise Where are the Snowdens of yesterday?

I get the reference, but to treat this as a literal question, we could consider Thomas Drake.

Decades of experience in USAF & USN Intelligence, degrees in engineering/computer science, fluent in English & German, worked for the CIA before becoming an NSA contractor where he was regarded as an expert in the quality-testing of software and working on a system for measuring the quality of computer code at the NSA.

After the Justice Department was through with him the only job he could get was at a Washington, DC area Apple store.
posted by mlis at 3:59 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the bright side, you no longer have to send letters to your elected officials. Just send yourself an email and they'll be sure to get it.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:18 PM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Has anyone seen Edward Snowden and Hong Kong Phooey in the same place at the same time?
posted by Room 641-A at 4:21 PM on June 10, 2013


Hey, askme is that way.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:22 PM on June 10, 2013


I feel sorry for his girlfriend. He didn't tell her anything, and now she'll never see him again. Hope she wasn't deeply in love with him and she can move on quickly.


That's okay. They only met last Thursday.
posted by dobbs at 4:34 PM on June 10, 2013


Let me come down on the side of hey, that was video of a famous Hong Kong bridge and oh, by the by, a PLA Navy base and if the CIA can't find that we are in a whole nother kind of trouble. If it were B-roll of San Francisco and showed the Golden Gate the only diffference would be the scale of how many MeFites immediately knew where it was.

The collapse of the Soviet Union caught the CIA completely by surprise

To be fair, I believe the collapse of the Soviet Union took the Soviet Union by surprise. It was kind of a mess. I mean, I hope some McNamara-esque think tank has a normative model that they can use to game theory the chances, and fill the scenario folder drawer, but I don't think there's really any reliable means of predicting such things.

Anyway, he's flown the coop and if he has any sense will not be interviewed with B-roll ever again.
posted by dhartung at 4:50 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyway, he's flown the coop and if he has any sense will not be interviewed with B-roll ever again.

Three words: C. G. I.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:57 PM on June 10, 2013


One of my professors in college basically got a fabulous career out of being one of those wacky grad students who argued strenuously, circa 1990, that the USSR was on the brink of complete and total collapse.

He said flat-out in class that it was dumb luck he happened to choose to be contrarian about this, and thus be so determined to hunt down the evidence to support this answer. And yeah, the reason the CIA had crappy data is that they were spying on the Politburo, and the USSR had over the decades developed a system in which everyone was incentivized to lie to their managers about how great things were going on the next level down. The only people who knew how bad it was were the folks on the ground, and they all knew better than to bother telling anyone in authority (instead, they went home and cracked jokes with their neighbors about 10-year-long waiting lists for a household telephone line installation, while drinking and smoking way too much of course.)

So, anyway: the CIA's intelligence was, ironically, too good. Some things never change (they wouldn't need MetaFilter to find this hotel in 1991 anymore than they do today.)

Anyway, right now I'm watching Munich, which is coincidentally all about the complex morality of targeted killings and intelligence agency behavior more generally. Genuinely coincidentally: I rented this DVD on Friday.
posted by SMPA at 5:31 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Help him, help the bombardier!"

"I’m cold," Snowden said. "I’m cold."
posted by Rash at 5:35 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whom did Rushdie endanger, other than himself?

Without resorting to the most Rube Goldbergian chain of logic, who did Snowden endanger besides the wholesale surveillance industry?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:00 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


What if it's not the CIA who's asking but the cash-strapped intelligence agency of a developing country? We might be guilty of cultural imperialism, to deny some poor individual who makes up their nation's entire overseas espionage bureau† the benefits of our google-fu.

† Next Sacha Baron Cohen film
posted by XMLicious at 7:15 PM on June 10, 2013


Interestingly enough, his hotel was identified on Twitter a few minutes after the newspaper profile was released, based on the lamp in the background.

Yeah, I so knew that was going to happen. I was surprised he sent the media a pic including that distinctive lamp and details of the bed's backboard, as that seemed like a dead giveaway. Even if he figured it was only a matter of time before the authorities caught up with him, it seemed like he would still want to give himself every advantage he could.

In any case, I thought about this AskMe angle, too. We're so good at crowdsourcing here (see also) that I definitely felt the temptation to turn to the blue to try to talk everything through and unravel the mystery, to figure out what might happen next, where Snowden might go, etc., like participating in some sort of vicarious Choose Your Own Adventure. Then I remembered that the government damn well doesn't need my help to track this guy down, and that the longer my curiosity remains unsated, the better things might go for him...

I decided I felt uncomfortable doing anything that might help track him down or predict his movements. And so I moved on to idle speculation about other things.
posted by limeonaire at 7:46 PM on June 10, 2013


Without resorting to the most Rube Goldbergian chain of logic, who did Snowden endanger besides the wholesale surveillance industry?

Kind of a different animal, but there are many instances where leaks of classified information have led directly to the deaths of people cooperating with the CIA. The Aldrich Ames case, for example.

One of the concerns of the Valerie Plame case was that when her cover was blown, anyone that had ever come into even the slightest of contact with her fictional energy consulting firm was now clouded with the suspicion that they had either been directly turned by Plame's group or had been fooled into giving up classified info. "You traded emails with Brewster-Jennings? Pack your stuff, you're fired. I can't trust you any more."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:54 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


[One comment deleted; maybe we can skip the discussion about whether some woman who may or may not be his girlfriend is hot?]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:18 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've disliked this bastard ever since he broke up with Princess Margaret.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:55 AM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'd kind of rather see the guy not be outed in any way, other than his own outing of himself, even if the CIA already knew, and even if he's doing MTV's Real World with Ed Snowden, the Hong Kong version. Even if he were a pure public figure, a celebrity of any sort, I'd feel uncomfortable with people trying to put a finger on his whereabouts and speculating about them. I'd be uncomfortable with it if it were Lindsay Lohan ordering chicken fingers at Denny's. But even more so with this guy, who has an awful lot at stake.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:46 PM on June 11, 2013


That seems weird to me. Would you have felt the same about speculating about the location of Whitey Bulger?
posted by Justinian at 6:09 PM on June 11, 2013


Even if he were a pure public figure, a celebrity of any sort, I'd feel uncomfortable with people trying to put a finger on his whereabouts and speculating about them.

Dude. The guy went on international television and did little to obscure his (initial) location. If he'd given the interview from a Cheney-esque "undisclosed location" illustrated with some scrub hillside and a resin chair, yeah, that'd be something (although I doubt there would be much pertinent speculation). But this was almost as silly and blatant as interviewing the guy at, say, the Eiffel Tower restaurant, and showing some background shots of A City Which is Clearly, You Know, Paris, "however we were not allowed to say where the interview took place".

I'm not sure what went into his psychology to make him commit such a potential blunder (and no, I wasn't satisfied with the David Brooks psychoanalysis), but this wasn't something we did to him, like 4chan doxing someone. It was a little more akin to him photobombing and thumbing his nose in the direction of the government than anything, as his views on the whistleblowing could have been communicated in an anonymous print interview.

Rule of thumb: if you want your location to stay hidden, stay off TV.
posted by dhartung at 3:32 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think he has probably left Hong Kong a little while ago so all this is mostly irrelevant.
posted by adamvasco at 5:42 AM on June 12, 2013


Pimlico road...check
Jakarta...check

I can't find him because "same as in town" is not applicable
posted by clavdivs at 9:40 AM on June 12, 2013


Would you have felt the same about speculating about the location of Whitey Bulger?

Well, there's a couple of different contexts (Is it legal? Is it morally right? Is it right for Metafilter? Is it wrong for Metafilter but right for some other site? Is it okay in the newspaper? What about written on a bathroom wall?) but in 'would I feel weird if this were in Ask on Metafilter?', then yes, I'd feel a little weird about it, because while there are figures that everybody might agree are bad guys, there are a lot of people that are somewhere on the continuum, and I think from a community management standpoint I think it's easier to have a policy about avoiding physically locating people then having to deal with the 'but this guy is bad, but this guy is good. This guy should have known he was giving away his location. This guy definitely did know he was giving away his location. This guy doesn't care. This guy does care. This guy is totally guilty. This guy might be guilty but we don't know. This guy might be guilty of a crime I approve of. This guy might be guilty of a crime I don't approve of."

It isn't my site. But the OP asked, and while everyone agrees its a moot point, I'd personally rather not see it here and whether or not it has utility (could someone now find him that couldn't find him before?) isn't something that really enters into it for me.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:42 AM on June 12, 2013


I think the CIA has better resources at their disposal, we're not going to be affecting things one way or another.
On the other hand it would be a shame if they didn't use it ask metafilter at all. Maybe there's an analyst tragically sitting at his desk in Langley, wondering if he can still eat that lasagne he put in the office fridge last week but not knowing who to turn to answer this conundrum.
posted by Erberus at 1:55 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Last I checked "dude" was alleged to have broken the law, as we still have the right to a trial. As for defining "crowdsourcing" into a far-right online lynch mob, count me out, thanks.
Ironically those are popular in china.
posted by delmoi at 5:03 PM on June 12, 2013


Also, the hotel he was staying in was the Mira, it's already been reported.
posted by delmoi at 5:05 PM on June 12, 2013


I can't wait until we find this guy's OkCupid profile too.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:00 PM on June 12, 2013


"Gee, I found this picture/video on a news article and, what a lovely area it looks like! Perhaps I'd like to visit it someday. I think I'll Ask Metafilter if they know where it is!"
posted by IndigoRain at 8:47 PM on June 12, 2013


Geh. I know this thread is well-dead, but I just thought I'd post since I responded to the original ask.mefi question with a Google Maps link to what seems to be approximately the location the image was taken from.

It never even crossed my mind that it might be trying to get Snowden's location at the time, and if I had known, I probably would have thought twice before I posted. My reaction was pretty much what IndigoRain said above.

As someone with a VERY cursory knowledge of HK's landscape from one brief visit, I just saw the photo and thought "Oh! I know that bridge! I saw it on the train from the island to the airport, just after we hit the mainland, near the mind staggeringly huge ports".

Then I spent like 2 minutes on Google Maps narrowing it down. I'm sure if it's that easy for a dunder-head like me, the CIA would already be well on top of it.
posted by Diag at 7:32 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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