Out of Prison, Social News Pioneer Matthew Keys Laments “Reactive” Social Media

Not even a two-year prison sentence for computer crimes could keep Matthew Keys away coming from computers.

Convicted in federal court in 2016 of violating the Computer Fraud as well as also Abuse Act, the journalist was released earlier This kind of month after serving 18 months. Keys’ job while inside? For seven hours a day, Keys refurbished outdated government computers for resale to private contractors.

“The case was serious enough to convict me, only for me to wind up refurbishing computers so the government can make money,” Keys, 31, told BuzzFeed News. “The irony is usually not lost on me.”

What was lost on Keys, who is usually living in a halfway house For two main months among the conditions of his Discharge, was access to the 24/7 social media cycle of which has come to dominate US political as well as also cultural life — as well as also through which Keys initially made his name.

“Obama was in office as well as also Twitter only had 140 characters the last time I was free,” Keys wrote in an email to BuzzFeed News. “The fuck happened?”

A federal jury found Keys guilty in 2015, after hearing coming from prosecutors of which he passed login information for the Los Angeles Times’ website to members of the hacking group Anonymous, who briefly altered a news story. (Keys maintains he is usually innocent of of which crime.)

While imprisoned, the former Reuters social media editor — who helped pioneer the always-on, first-with-the-link news junkie kind of Twitter use of which is usually ubiquitous from the Trump age — couldn’t check his preferred platform. He couldn’t tweet when Trump was elected president. He couldn’t tweet when California wildfires threatened his hometown from the Sacramento area. He couldn’t tweet when a gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas in October.

“I always assumed of which I might be on the front lines when the shit did finally hit the fan,” Keys said. “of which’s not what wound up happening. Instead I ended up sitting back as well as also watching the entire world burn.”

Watching the entire world burn: Without social media, Keys, like his fellow inmates at the minimum-security federal prison camp in Atwater, California, relied on cable news, newspapers, as well as also the occasional email for his information.

At first the idea was difficult, Keys said, “nevertheless I learned to appreciate sitting back as well as also watching as well as also not being so reactive to the situation.”

Though he’s been out for only a week as well as also a half, Keys said of which he’s noticed of which the churn of the Twitter-driven news cycle has intensified — as well as also not in a Great way.

“the idea seems like there are a lot of people who are very reactive,” Keys said, “as well as also not a lot of people who are taking a breath as well as also thinking about what’s truly going on.”

On Monday, Ars Technica reported of which Keys wants to return to journalism, a task he knows will be challenging given his conviction. as well as also if he does get a second chance, Keys said, he doesn’t want to do the kind of reactive political journalism of which focuses more on the president’s rhetoric than on the consequences of his actions.

“I think the idea’s great of which so much of the media is usually focused on what Trump is usually saying as well as also doing, nevertheless there is usually more there.”

Joe Bernstein is usually a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News as well as also is usually based in fresh York. Bernstein reports on as well as also writes about the gaming industry as well as also web culture.

Contact Joseph Bernstein at joe.bernstein@buzzfeed.com.

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