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June 11, 2013

Edward Snowden the Invisible

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Edward Snowden on Hong Kong hotel bed

HotelChatter.com sleuths hotel and room used for Guardian interview

screenshot – Edward Snowden Guardian Interview

The house once rented by Edward Snowden sits empty and is for sale in Waipahu, Hawaii. 

The Hawaii rental

Lindsay Mills, 28, is the girlfriend of NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

Photos of the woman identified as the girlfriend surfacing now (12)

What is fascinating and unprecedented, at least as long as I’ve been doing the Bag, is the anonymity of Edward Snowden.

Given the aggressive and no-holds-barred nature of personality politics, gossip and online dish, not to mention the era of social networking and personal branding, how is it possible that almost three full internet days have gone by without a single photo of Snowden showing up online (outside of the images captured by the Guardian in a Hong Kong hotel room related to his interview)?

What you see above is what appears so far — at least, Google Image and Google News-wise. What makes the anonymity so interesting, of course, is what it says or merely suggests about Mr. Snowden. Has he led that low key a life that there aren’t photos — any photos — of him out there anywhere? Or is there something more intentional to it? (Like being — or becoming — invisible was part of the job description?)

And then beyond Snowden, this absence of public imagery — or, by this point, any found imagery either — makes for an interesting reflection about identity, and standards for presence or absence when it comes to how accessible we all are in the world of Big Media and Big Brother.

(11:37 am – slightly edited.)

(photo/screenshot 1 & 3: Ewen MacAskill/The Guardian/REUTERS. photo 2: HotelChatter.com. photo 4: Eugene Tanner photography via NY Daily News; photo 5: Inside Edition via NY Daily News)

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