Arguably the most unexpected Twitter brawl coupled with fierce accusations and denunciations in the recent history of the platform erupted without warning Wednesday afternoon when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden went after Black Swan and Antifragile author Nassim Taleb.
Unlikely as a Snowden vs. Taleb war of words and showdown might be, it quickly spun into a full blown meltdown with supporters of each side quickly jumping in and assorted hangers on rubbernecking amid accusations of cyberbullying and retorts of "LIAR!". Things spiraled further from there...
This you?— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) August 4, 2021
Because it sure looks like you were trying to destroy a promising young woman's reputation in front of extremely powerful members of her industry—with precious little to support your claims.
I guess my eyes deceive me. https://t.co/HdYIsbl2Sh pic.twitter.com/nR4svyuGIp
Here's how it all began...
I was looking to understand why @nntaleb was cyber-bullying a young woman who writes on economics, and I stumbled upon a frankly unbelievable history of inability to handle even gentle criticism—by a man who titled his book "Antifragile."— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) August 4, 2021
This behavior goes back years. pic.twitter.com/Jm2cSqC0EC
Taleb has recently come out vocally against Bitcoin, which he says immediately turned into a sustained avalanche of trolls and bots targeting his account - resulting in him blocking just as fast, also with his usual colorful language and notoriously curmudgeonly rhetoric, which he's never shied away from using in the case of all those "fucking idiots" and imbeciles.
Snowden initially took issue with a July 30 response of Taleb to writer and analyst Lyn Alden, founder of Lyn Alden Investment Strategy. Snowden said Taleb had engaged in "cyber-bullying a young woman who writes on economics" leading him to list out an "unbelievable history of inability to handle even gentle criticism" including "behavior goes back years" according to Snowden's tweet.
Taleb blasted away in response to the charge..
Edgar @Snowden, formerly a victim, is now joining the #BTC cyberbullying mob in devious way, misportraying the victim "you can't take criticism?"— Nassim Nicholas Taleb (@nntaleb) August 4, 2021
What should I do to him?
Mr Snowden are you capable of a debate? https://t.co/i1IrbGASr9
Despite the rarity of Snowden getting into a personal Twitter fight, the gloves came off - with the former NSA analyst apparently making an "exception" - even later pinning his original attack on Taleb to the top of his profile.
With respect, I would be more sympathetic to this defense had you not been using substantially the same language in 2016 (and perhaps earlier) about subjects entirely unrelated to Bitcoin—which at the time was largely ignored at $700.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) August 4, 2021
Exhibit A: https://t.co/ZBuFZMvqd8 pic.twitter.com/0Gt3YdJY1f
And then time to rehash old controversy and dig up old tweets, as any proper twitter fight tends to go down...
My friend, believe me when I say I understand what it is like to be the subject of unfair and even untrue criticism, but if *this* is all you take away from this exchange, I can't help you.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) August 4, 2021
You are a public intellectual. You should be above reflexive insults. pic.twitter.com/xYrrWX4ecQ
And things got progressively nastier into the evening, particularly with this Taleb retweet accusing Snowden of being "owned" by Russia, given the place of his asylum and recent citizenship....
For these couple hours Twitterati collectively put down all things COVID, mandates and masks etc., and grabbed the popcorn.
Taleb has since challenged Snowden to a "face-to-face" (or presumably live-streamed) debate, while also charging him with "spreading lies unwittingly".