Twitter reacts to the NSA leak with dark humor

"Apparently the only word NSA technology can't pick up is 'Tsarnaev'"

Published June 7, 2013 4:50PM (EDT)

American morale continues to suffer as more and more details emerge on the leak of classified information that shows the NSA and FBI have been quietly monitoring the cyber lives of American denizens without our knowledge. It's hard to see a silver lining, though Salon's Andrew Leonard points out that there is one small one: free expression on Twitter.

Cynical humor is probably not exactly what Leonard is referring to, but comedy is one of the ways to deal with news that seems otherwise bleak or hopeless. (As David Simon points out, comedy makes us feel less bad about the fact that we're all going to die.)

Since the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald broke the first bit of news about the NSA's unfettered access to Verizon phone records, Twitter has been abuzz with jokes -- some goood, some not so good -- about the FBI, NSA and the NSA's classified program PRISM, which gives the NSA direct access to servers of nine tech companies.

There are the "NSA-is-watching-me-right-now" jokes:

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And of course, the inevitable PRISM parody accounts:

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Which are maybe not so funny ...:

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Twitter jokes got a second wind, though, thanks to the all-powerful NSA's laughably bad PowerPoint slides on PRISM:

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Even Yale professor and statistician Edward Tufte was amused:

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And then we had a good laugh at the WSJ, who literally thanked the NSA for data-mining:

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But after a while, the jokes just got kind of sad because they ring with a certain truth:

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And maybe a little overplayed:

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But if it's too hard to resist all the jokes, however hackneyed they may be, there's a good reason for it: It makes the pain sting a little less and blunts the shock of discovering what many Americans long suspected -- that we're a lot more exposed than we'd like to believe.

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Barack Obama Comedy Humor Nsa Prism Privacy Twitter