When the ACLU’s Ben Wizner joked on stage that Edward Snowden was appearing on the screen behind him routed through “seven proxies,” technology journalists from around the world completely missed the joke.
You see, claiming to be behind seven proxies is one of the oldest jokes on the Internet. According to Know Your Meme, it’s been in use since 2007. The sarcastic remark is used to jokingly bait someone who is trying to find your location through the Internet. Telling someone that you’re behind seven proxies is a joke playing on most people’s poor understanding of how to use the Internet securely.
Image via Know Your Meme
And, sure enough, that poor understanding was promptly displayed by everyone from CNN to the Guardian as they took to Twitter to report that Snowden was appearing through seven proxies, which they thought explained the somewhat choppy Google Hangout.
— cnntech (@cnntech) March 10, 2014
— Martin Bryant (@MartinSFP) March 10, 2014
— Jemima Kiss (@jemimakiss) March 10, 2014
— MashableLIVE (@MashableLive) March 10, 2014
— Kashmir Hill (@kashhill) March 10, 2014
Snowden appearing through 7 proxies to SXSW festival. Choppy video feed with We the People preamble to US constution as the backdrop
— Dominic Waghorn (@DominicWaghorn) March 10, 2014
Screenshot via ACLU/YouTube