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Bubble, Goat, Chicken McNuggets: Bitcoin – As Seen On TV

After a watershed year for Bitcoin in 2017, cryptocurrencies have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight.

News outlets, TV shows, celebrities and well-known broadcasters couldn’t just sit back while virtual currencies announced themselves to the world, spearheaded by Bitcoin’s spiralling bull run that came to a head in December.

As Bitcoin peaked at $20,000, it was almost impossible for any reputable media outlet not to cover the news. But the lofty high was followed by a plunging correction, which was reported on with just as much fervor.

While the naysayers rejoiced, many were and are currently trying to wrap their heads around Bitcoin, Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

It’s hardly surprising then that some of the world’s most popular TV and radio show hosts have waded into the crypto realm.

However, their assessment and explanation of Bitcoin leads one to question the motives behind the message being sent out to an audience of millions – if not hundreds of millions.

Ellen’s bizarre take on Bitcoin

Ellen Degeneres is a comedian – let’s make that clear from the outset. Her flagship programme, the Ellen Show, has won over 50 Emmy Awards and its Youtube channel is rated in the top 20 for the most subscribers.

She is loved by many and her opinion matters. That’s maybe why her recent segment on Bitcoin on her show, while admittedly tongue-in-cheek, didn’t do much to actually unpack or define what the preeminent cryptocurrency actually is.

Comically speaking, she summed up the sentiments of many people who’ve struggled to come to grips with what Bitcoin is. Poking fun at people who go along with Bitcoin conversations, she suggested most of us just pretend we know what we’re talking about, as summed up by CNBC.

“Everybody is talking about Bitcoin, nobody understands it. It’s like a plot twist in a confusing movie, when you’re watching a movie and your friends are acting like they know what’s going on, and you’re like, ‘Yeah, I do too.’

“Pretend like Bitcoin is a goat. Now it’s adorable… and you want to pick it up and you want to pet it. But you can’t because it’s not there, it doesn’t exist except for on that Internet right there, just like Bitcoin is digital currency.”

While her explanation is hilarious – you can watch a snippet below – it does make one take a step back and wonder what kind of perception the mainstream media is creating around cryptocurrencies.

It’s not surprising that a comedian would take this line with Bitcoin, as Ellen did with her Bitcoin-goat reference. The goat is cute, but you can’t interact with it because it exists as a picture on the Internet.

She made skeptical remarks about hardware wallets as well, and touched on the global trade of Bitcoin. Her parting sentiments were that she’d rather own a baby goat than Bitcoin – effectively distancing herself from ever owning cryptocurrency.

John Oliver – satirical insights

Renowned for his highly skeptical take on current affairs on his show, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver offers up a far more insightful, no holds barred critique of the Bitcoin phenomenon.

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The astute, intellectual comedian treats the issue of cryptocurrencies far more seriously and goes about unpacking what Bitcoin is, how it works and the arguments for and against it.

Mix it in with his usual humour and it makes for some interesting viewing. Oliver muses in the episode:

“Many people believe that the really exciting thing about it is the potential of the innovative technology it’s built on and that is called Blockchain.”

He goes on to highlight the power of the Bitcoin Blockchain, using the example of a Bitcoin transaction across the globe versus a transaction made by a traditional bank, which could take a few days to be verified.

In comparison to Ellen’s segment, Oliver’s analysis is far more informative. What he does well is provide the pros and cons of cryptocurrencies – from conventional companies using the word ‘Blockchain’ to bolster the value of their stocks, to the absurdly long list of cryptocurrencies created by startup companies through initial coin offerings.

Of course, Oliver also takes the unconverted through a crash course of the most commonly used words of the cryptocurrency community. Namely HODL, FUD, MOON and REKT.

The likes of Dogecoin get a mention because of its original purpose as a parody cryptocurrency.

Good for a laugh – but not quite objective

As entertainers, both Ellen and John Oliver have given their fans what they’re looking for, perhaps at the expense of cryptocurrencies.

While still in its infancy, the market has had its fair share of growing pains, in the form of hacks, scams, bull runs and market corrections. However it is easy to highlight all the negatives, which most news outlets have jumped on.

As is the case with many of the top cryptocurrencies, their applications have shaken up the financial world in particular. Users now have, at their fingertips, a number of virtual currencies that have expedited the need for foreign exchanges, bank transfers and the bureaucracy that comes along with it.

The rhetoric being spread by the likes of Degeneres and Oliver has one potentially damaging consequence. People who are still learning the basics, the ins and outs of Blockchain, are being told to stay clear of the sector altogether.

Watched by millions, these videos can potentially stifle future adoption of Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, as people are influenced against supporting the developing technology. Why would you need to do your own research when these celebrities are telling you it’s best to stay clear?

More examples

Giving the prolific coverage of Bitcoin over the past year, many pundits have thrown their weight behind assumptions.

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Over that time many other publications, journalists and broadcasters have made their own predictions on various platforms.

In August 2017, BBC tech correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones stated that Bitcoin was in a bubble in an exchange on Twitter, echoing his own sentiments in his own reports months earlier.

There was more of this apathetic rhetoric, along with calls for further regulation at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, as Cointelegraph reported from the event. It must be said that well-informed members of the crypto community stood up against these views, highlighting the often biased views against the sector.

Bitcoin has even featured on famous TV sitcoms like Big Bang Theory, but as Motherboard writer Jordan Pearson suggests, the episode only scratches the surface and has a massive focus on the volatile value of Bitcoin – which is a common trend in most media references.

For the initiated, the likes of Max Keiser has often offered in-depth, insightful commentary on Bitcoin since its inception. With his financial background, he has always had a focus on the market side of things but he is finely in tune with the fundamentals of Blockchain technology,

These commentators do the industry justice, and their efforts create the right environment for positive developments in the sector. While some media piggyback off the cryptocurrency craze, others do their part to continue the growth of what is sure to be one of the biggest innovation of the 21st century.

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An African Revolution Being Borne of the Back of Bitcoin and Blockchain

The stereotypical thought of an African revolution, one that breaks the chains of oppression and domination, sparks images of bloody battles of liberation. But now, with a new tool that does not discriminate or exclude, Bitcoin is helping African millennials free himself from financial repression.

Armed with only a smartphone everyday African citizens are able to tap into a growing ecosystem and profit from it. But it is more than that; businesses are looking to use Blockchain technology as a cheaper alternative in order to build a better business.

Everyday freedom

In order for an individual to enter the stock market or to invest in a company or idea, it requires more than just know how. The traditional money market has been for so long an elitist environment that subtle excludes those who are not of its ilk.

A thirty-something woman from the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda, does not exactly fit the bill of a savvy investor. However, Bitcoin is opening up that world to everyone and all.

Peace Akware, that every 30-something from Kampala, told the BBC:

“I check my Bitcoin every day and any chance I can get. Any minute, any hour, anytime, as often as I can.”

An active alternative

Merely making a living in a place like Uganda is a much harder task than on the streets of New York. Employment is a lottery even for graduates, like Peace, which leads people into looking for alternatives to make ends meet.

So-called ‘side hustles’ are daily bread for many in impoverished nations, but they are often unsuccessful, time-consuming, and difficult. However, Bitcoin offers an alternative which is not time-consuming, and while it comes with risks, it is accessible and manageable.

Blockchain power

There are also businesses that are challenging the difficult and cutthroat workplace by using the power of Blockchain to cut costs and time.

A company called BitPesa operates like a remittance company, transferring money across borders, but instead of using a medium like the US Dollar, they have opted for Bitcoin and its simple cross-border transfers.

Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO of BitPesa, explains why this break with traditional banking is so effective in Africa.

“I’ve been in Nairobi for the past month and I had three big banking things to do. All three of these operations with three different Kenyan banks were canceled for different reasons or had delays or needed additional information, so it took almost two and a half weeks per transaction to get them finalized and I’m an expert.”

Clearly, with the banking system, even at its best, very outdated and causing many frustrations, in Africa, where it is already flawed and alternative needs to be sought.

Schools in

One issue that has been brought up before with an African revolution in Blockchain and Bitcoin is educating the masses on the disruptive technology.

This has prompted some to get into the business of Bitcoin education.

Martin Serugga, a trader in Kampala, has started weekly classes on Bitcoin which caters to about 50 people currently.

His take on it harps back to the unemployment stating that the interest comes from those who are desperately seeking and failing, at getting jobs.

“If you don’t have factory jobs and you don’t have corporate jobs to serve the thousands of young people coming out of the universities this is an alternative.”

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Two New Hardware Bugs Affect Most Devices, Private Keys Vulnerable

Researchers have published a report on two hardware bugs that allow programs to steal sensitive data on affected devices, which is “most” devices worldwide.

For crypto users, these bugs are a direct threat to the security of their private keys, making the need for secure hardware storage of crypto funds even more pressing.

How do the bugs work?

The two bugs, known as Meltdown and Spectre, exploit security vulnerabilities in Intel, AMD, and ARM processors in any device, including PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Meltdown affects all devices with Intel chips, which are estimated to be in 90% of all computers (desktop and laptop combined), the BBC reported.

Spectre potentially has an even wider reach, affecting Intel, ARM, and AMD chips in any kind of device. Meltdown and Spectre also work in the cloud.

The BBC also reported that the tech industry kept the threat a secret for up to six months via non-disclosure agreements, but now fears are mounting that public awareness could lead to real-life exploits.

Protecting your funds

Bitcoin core developer Jonas Schnelli referred to the newly reported security flaws in terms of how they affect Bitcoin users, laying out three steps to secure cryptocurrency holdings:

Pavol Rusnak, the CTO of TREZOR manufacturer SatoshiLabs, tweeted Jan. 4 to confirm that its devices are unaffected by Meltdown and Spectre, noting:

“Using a (hardware) wallet is now more important than ever.”

In October 2017, the Ledger Nano S hardware wallet was number eight in the list of top ten best selling items on Amazon’s Computers and Accessories section. Today, Jan.4, the Ledger Nano S is number one.

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Bitcoin Violates Sharia Law Says Egypt’s Highest Religious Official, Issues Fatwa

Egypt’s highest official of religious law, Grand Mufti Shawki Allam, called Bitcoin trading “unlawful” under Sharia law, online publication Ahram reported today. In the fatwa issued Monday, Allam wrote that Bitcoin isn’t an “acceptable interface of exchange” and is therefore unlawful to trade. The cleric also cited Bitcoin’s potential for money laundering and pointed out that because it isn’t subject to any government’s control, Bitcoin could potentially undermine the Egyptian economy.

Allam further stated that Bitcoin negatively affects “dealers’ legal safety” and that:

“Bitcoin is forbidden in Sharia as it causes harm to individuals, groups and institutions.”

One of the grand mufti’s advisors told BBC that Bitcoin is “used directly to fund terrorists.” Egypt’s government is also no fan of cryptocurrencies, having called Bitcoin a “form of deception that falls under legal liability.”

Halal or not?

Back in February 2017, Cointelegraph spoke to several experts about Bitcoin’s status under Sharia law. Matthew Martin of Blossom Finance explained his belief that Bitcoin is halal, writing:

“As a payment network, Bitcoin is halal. In fact, Bitcoin goes beyond what more conventional closed banking networks offer. Unlike conventional bank networks which use private ledgers where there’s no guarantee that the originator actually owns the underlying assets, Bitcoin guarantees with mathematical certainty that the originator of the transfer owns the underlying assets. Conventional banks operate using the principle of fractional reserve, which is prohibited in Islam.”

Matthews did agree that Bitcoin isn’t likely to be considered money under Islamic law:

““Historically, though, Islam has only recognized commodities of intrinsic value as money including things like gold (Dinar), silver (Dirham); rice, dates, wheat, barley and salt. In a strict interpretation of what qualifies as money, Bitcoin probably misses the mark.”

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Julian Assange Supports Bitcoin As Ways to Free Catalonia From Spain’s Dictate

A recent report from BBC News indicates that the Spanish government will seize control of the finances of the autonomous region of Catalonia within 48 hours, if they don’t stop the ‘illegal’ referendum vote regarding independence.

Jullian Assange, the freedom-touting founder of Wikileaks, quickly tweeted his support of the referendum, as well as a comment on the importance of Bitcoin in this regard.

Support from Wikileaks

The vote was proposed after years of the wealthy region paying into the central government far more than it received in public services. The Spanish government has threatened to take control of all financial transactions in order to stop the spending of state funds on illegal acts. Spain’s finance minister Cristobal Montoro is categorical:

“These measures are to guarantee that not one euro will go toward financing illegal acts.”

Paying for independence

The reality that Bitcoin represents a non-government controlled currency that can function without centralized government systems, makes it immune to geopolitical upheaval. This value-stability principle is what has made many industry insiders call it ‘digital gold.’

Assange’s post would indicate that those who desire freedom of finance and removal of government strong-arming and restrictive practices, should be heavily in favor of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.  

As liquidity and use-cases for Bitcoin increase, its position as a supra-governmental currency will continue to stabilize.

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Customer Confidence Is Suffering Due to Fake Reviews

Reviews shape our decisions in the digital economy. A report by the Spiegel Research Center titled ‘How online reviews influence sales’ reveals that the purchase likelihood for a product with five reviews is 270 percent more than a product that has no reviews.

The larger question then is how important the authenticity and veracity of the reviews are themselves? Are fake reviews a big no-no for consumers today?

Cointelegraph covered the Revain crowdsale, a while ago and now that the crowdsale period is nearing its end. We think that the emergence of the first unbiased review platform could add an interesting dimension to the problem of fake reviews and customer confidence.

Immutability equals trustworthiness

Today, we are facing a crisis of trustworthiness. Online reviews can be edited, reviewed or even removed by sites that host them. In some cases, businesses have taken the extreme step of using libel laws against reviewers to arm-twist them into removing reviews.

The Canadian Broadcaster CBC covered in an article about a student Olivia Parsons in Ottawa who was forced to delete her negative review of the company that managed her building after coming under legal pressure.

Immutability is the solution to all these problems and Revain have built their product on this premise.

Talking about immutability a Revain spokesperson tells us:

“Revain focus on immutability is the fundamental part of our project. As far as the problem of review and texts written by a reviewer has been a problem for a long time, Revain concentrated efforts on developing and offering a totally different approach to this problem. The solution has been found in review immutability.  Often many of application services are under attacks which lead to amendment of the text written originally. Coding of the text written by a reviewer helps us to preserve its authenticity which doesn’t depend on the behavior of the system and participants of the system.”

Fake reviews are a real problem

According to a paper authored by Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Georgios Zervas of Boston University Questrom School of Business, nearly 16 percent of restaurant reviews on Yelp are fake.

Research by Gartner also showed that up to 15 percent of all online reviews are also fake.

It is also a fact that sometimes rival businesses use reviews to launch a triad of fake reviews against their rivals.

The BBC carried a story about how online reviews are being used as ‘Blackmail.’ They cited the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as having discovered that not only do businesses write fake reviews of themselves to elevate themselves in the eyes of their customers, but they also defame rivals by ‘commissioning fake negative reviews.’

Monetizing reviews and using a Blockchain to ensure that these reviews are verified and immutable is a solution that Revain is pitching.

They explain:

“Revain concentrated efforts on attracting more attention to the problem of user’s opinion about goods and services. Such opinions can reach out to a wider circle of other users as well as for companies. In the end, both, users and companies providing services or manufacturing goods can benefit from the authentic opinions.  

We believe that there is huge potential in online reviews. However, according to our research, there haven’t been any previous attempts of creating similar services. Revain has developed a totally different format of communication between a user and a company. The company is to reward users for reviews left on Blockchain given that those reviews are authentic and can’t be deleted or changed at a later stage.”  

Demo-version of Revain platform after the crowdsale

Revain’s crowdsale will end on Sept. 6, 2017, and it is a chance for investors to participate in the development of an unbiased review system. 

Reviews today are dominated by large companies like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Amazon and others.

Revain promises to be a game changer in this field and will add an element of transparency, immutability and monetization to reviews.  

At the time of writing, they had already raised 1,588 BTC through their crowdsale. Meanwhile, Revain is already gearing up for their post-crowdsale future. 

As their spokesperson revealed:

“The first demo version of the platform is to start functioning within a month after crowdsale ends. The platform release is planned for the fourth quarter of this year. The demo version will allow us to test the platform and the users can write reviews there. Thus, we are to do some training of AI (artificial intelligence). We will encourage users to write reviews about companies which have gone through ICO and cryptocurrency exchanges. We will cover ICO market this way. We keep bringing companies in our project. We have had negotiations with companies that are potentially interested in a partnership with Revain. Our goal is to constantly increase the number of the companies.”

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.