to preface this; i'm writing this for mainly 2 reasons -- to distance myself from maia's actions, and to vent some of my own frustration regarding all this. i'm not posting this to cancel maia for these actions, or the politics of the "hacks" themselves.
while i think it is great the no-fly list is out there, i don't ultimately know if this will lead to a net good / bad. if anything it just seems to be confirming things we already knew. the bangladeshi government leak is more complicated as it's regarding a nation that has suffered horribly at the hands of NA/EU imperialism, but also leaving this information so publicly available wasn't doing them or their employees any favours so... i don't know :shrug:. though all the companies she's leaked information from can get fucked. so to sum it all up; my opinions on the "raw" actions themselves are mostly positive.
the reasons behind these actions, and the result of them on a more local-to-maia scale are what have me both concerned and frustrated. for which some earlier context might be helpful...
i have known maia for a good year or so at this point, and pre verkada hack i would have said we were pretty good friends. not close, but knew each other pretty well. the leaks she was making slowly became more prominent over time, and as an outside observer my opinion at this point was mostly just "huh, this is pretty cool". whichever groups were involved with maia's hacking efforts (if any?), were totally unrelated to our friend group.
also worth noting, is that i was the owner / administrator of a mastodon instance on which she had an account. this instance was deleted and data wiped back in 2022 due to server and domamin costs, but it was an important part of this story up to ~ 2021. (apparently someone has since acquired the domain and is hosting a surface-level scrape of the website from back in 2019. i filed a complaint with the domain registrar, cloudflare and their hosting provider regarding this obvious honeypot but months have passed and nothing has happened).
as she became more focused on the leaks (and the attention) i didn't end up hearing from her very often but that was to be expected. she was banned from twitter on numerous occasions and during these occasions her account on my mastodon instance would become one of her primary social media accounts. once she dropped the verkada hack her popularity sky-rocketed, and the level of the hack resulted in me getting emailed by their CTO. i was getting worried at this point, though i had been starting to expect a situation like this. if anything i was enjoying the attention a little myself, though also hurriedly tightening my own security practices out of fear. (not that opsec can be performed retroactively lol).
finally there came the fbi raid and maia's indictment. there was a bit of a panic in group chats regarding her accounts now being compromised, and me further worrying about my own / my mastodon instance's security. i wasn't involved, but simply by being friends with maia i was worried about being in the targets of the US government, because when has "i have done nothing wrong" ever stopped them. fortunately for my own ass, and the safety of my users, i was never contacted and received no data requests regarding my mastodon instance (that i know of).
however this was the start of when maia really started drifting away from our friend group, only ever dropping in to post a link to their own tweet / post, maybe a little discussion of it before disappearing. no interest in any of our friend group. and this was how it stayed for the next (nearly) 2 years! by this point i had given up hope for any kind of friendship outside of our group chat, or anything not focused on what she was doing. which in fairness; must be hard to manage from her point of view. she had a shitty time at the hands of the US government, likely accumulated some trauma and this was what kept me from kicking her out of my friend circles.
before getting to present day we need to address and keep something in mind, to see all of this from the correct perspective. maia never needed to do any of this with her legal name attached! yes it wouldn't be as simple as switching from legal name -> anonymously leaking things at say the point of 2020, not without serious gaps in activity and finding totally different comms channels, but it was possible. and yes, fair enough she took responsibility for her own actions and accepted that she was a likely vanning target, which worked quite well with the fact that she lives in Switzerland. (they notoriously do not extradite their own citizens). but as we've seen from above, it doesn't just effect you maia! and not everyone lives in fucking Switzerland! by having her legal identity attached to her public hacking efforts, it makes it so much easier for governments to target people around her in order to get to her. this is something they are known to do, raiding people simply for being in the vicinity of their targets (see: https://archive.org/details/OHM2013-Partyvan). and yes, people might just say "well don't be friends then"... but guess what? when emotions are attached it doesn't feel as simple as that. shit hurts.
so coming closer to present day... most of this is behind us, maia is enjoying her new attention and speaking at events. runs in a number of other circles now, which from what i have seen largely just seem to dote on her. maybe i'm just a little salty from losing a friend and seeing this through shit-tinted-glasses... who knows. our friendship at this point is basically non-existent and outside of 1 group chat she occasionally posts her own media in, we have zero contact.
however sometime last year, i noticed from her public social media that maia was starting to leak things again. at first it was a few little bits and pieces as far as i could see, but when it reached the stage of the bangladeshi government leak i felt the need to speak up. because again, she was doing this under her legal identity. also in her new circles, even if they were just people looking up to her, i know at least one was a minor. and in creating the waves that she was, maia was placing a lot of these people on the radar of the US government. making the US government aware of specific young people with anti-capitalist / anti-imperialist views is straight up dangerous!
at this point i reached out to her in our remaining group chat, specifically @ 'ing her. i told her that regardless of her own safety, the bigger danger at this point were those around her. a while passed (hours? days?); she read the message and ignored it. (i saw from the chat protocol's indicator that she had read this message). in case she had somehow missed it, i @ 'ed her again with similar text and linking back to the previous message. same situation again; she read it and ignored it. a week later, i think she had even sent another message in the chat at this point, i made a final attempt to @ her and was met with the same response. the end result was that i blocked her from our group chats.
so ultimately, i do not think maia is doing these hacks totally out of good faith. i think she is being driven significantly by a lust for attention, and regardless of that she is putting people around her in serious danger. i am not saying that she should be cancelled, as the politics of a situation with far-reaching consequences like this are complicated. i am simply getting these words out to vent the frustration at the loss of a friend, said person ignoring my pleas to think of those around her and again to make it clear that i have never been involved in any of this.
my final words:
- maia please stop putting the people around you in danger.
- those putting her on a pedestal, please stop.
- those purposefully misgendering her, go fuck yourselves.