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Twitter CEO Tells Congress It's Exploring Blockchain in Bid to Fight Scams

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told a Congressional committee Wednesday that the social media company is exploring blockchain solutions for its platform.

Dorsey was responding to a question from California Representative Doris Matsui during a House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing that focused on alleged bias against political conservatives on Twitter.

“You previously expressed interest in the broad applications of blockchain technology, including potentially in an effort to verify identity to fight misinformation and scams,” Matsui remarked before asking: “What potential applications do you see for blockchain?”

Dorsey replied that “we need to start with problems we’re trying to solve for our customers and look at all available technology,” going on to say:

“Blockchain is one that I think has a lot of untapped potential, specifically around distributed trust and distributed enforcement. We haven’t gone as deep as I would like just yet in understanding how we might apply this technology to Twitter but we have people thinking about it today.”

That the company is looking at possible solutions for shoring up digital trust using blockchain is perhaps unsurprising, given recent events.

As reported by CoinDesk and many other outlets, Twitter has been ground-zero for identity scams that seek to defraud users out of their cryptocurrency holdings. Through the use of copycat accounts and what researchers say is a massive botnet, would-be fraudsters have sought to trick users into sending their coins to fictitious accounts.

During the hearing, Matsui remarked about a previously-reported plan that calls for the Department of Commerce to create a blockchain workign group.

“As I previously announced in this committee, I am soon introducing legislation to direct the Department of Commerce to convene a working group of stakeholders to develop a consensus-based definition of blockchain,” she said prior to asking Dorsey about the social media firm’s work with the technology.

Image via House of Representatives video

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Square Cash Eclipses Venmo In Popularity, But Is It Thanks To Bitcoin?

Many have likened the fintech industry to the nascent cryptosphere, as both of these growing spaces are set on overthrowing legacy systems with more efficient, innovative, and unique solutions. While these two industries are far from identical from a top-down perspective, Square, a fintech startup, has recently begun to blur the lines between crypto and fintech.

Image Courtesy of Square

Late in 2017, the fintech firm announced that its so-called “Cash” app would be testing support for the trading of Bitcoin. As the price of the asset reached its peak, Cash launched support for the purchase and sale of Bitcoin.

This move didn’t come as a surprise to many, as Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square alike, has shown fleeting interests and admiration for cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies. In the announcement regarding the addition of this feature, Dorsey wrote:

We support Bitcoin because we see it as a long-term path towards greater financial access for all. This is a small step.

This move has seemingly helped the app, albeit not single handly, overtake the download figures posted by its primary competitor, Venmo (Paypal), who has tackled mobile payment processing alongside Cash (Square). According to data from Sensor Tower and Nomura Instinet, relayed by CNBC, Cash has been downloaded 33.5 million times, while Venmo has been downloaded 32.9 million times. This move is a result of Square Cash’s staggering growth rate at nearly three times faster than Venmo.

Dan Dolev, a Nomura Instinet analyst, recently expressed his faith in the service in a recent report, noting that the app could garner $100 million in sales by 2020, “even without deeper active user penetration.”

Square Cash And Bitcoin — A Dynamic Duo?

Prior to a recent announcement, Cash’s aforementioned Bitcoin-related feature was only available in a certain set of U.S. states.

But now, individuals all across the US, in all 50 states, can now use the Cash App to buy Bitcoin as they may please.

This feature, along with Cash’s growing dominance in the mobile industry, helped propel the app in popularity, with users stating that they saw the payment solution make an appearance in the top 10 products listed on the Apple App Store. This was backed up by Nomura’s aforementioned report, who noted that Cash was the #1 app in US’ finance category throughout Q2 of 2018.

Although Bitcoin was a welcome addition, it seems that Cash’s rise in popularity cannot be solely attributed to cryptocurrency support, as Dolev alluded to in the following comment:

Interestingly, this relationship (between Cash and Bitcoin’s popularity/price) seems to go both ways. While Bitcoin prices increased in July and Coinbase downloads accelerated 11 percent, Cash App downloads remained stable at 154 percent, showing little variance from prior months’ growth rates.

Nonetheless, Dolev, who is also an executive director at Nomura Instinet, sees the addition of crypto trading as more of a welcome add-on to the service, rather than Cash’s end game.

Photo by Jordan Andrews on Unsplash

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A Look Into The Mind Of An “ETH Giveaway” Twitter Scammer

Crypto Pet Peeves — Twitter Scam Bots

Ethereum giveaway scam bots are the pet peeve of any cryptocurrency Twitter user, with these malicious accounts littering the comment sections of tweets. Nearly everyone in this nascent community has seen them, but for those who don’t know what these bots are, here’s a bit of an explanation.

These so-called “giveaway scam bots” are fraudulent Twitter accounts that pose as celebrities, entrepreneurs or even cryptocurrency personalities to garner attention or cryptocurrencies. The most notable cases of these scams include Twitter ‘giving away ETH’ scams, with scammers requesting for users to send a certain amount of Ether to an address, in exchange for a substantially larger payout. Obviously, nothing ever comes of these requests, as the unfortunate few who send their funds to the addresses never receive anything in return.

As reported by Ethereum World News, cybersecurity researchers recently uncovered that there were upwards of 15,000 individual accounts dedicated to garnering scammed cryptocurrency. While this figure may not tell the whole story, with bots getting banned left and right, Duo Security’s search spanned 88 million Twitter accounts, so the firm’s claims hold some credence at the very least.

These pesky scam bots have become so widespread that Vitalik Buterin, a well-known co-founder of Ethereum, had to go as far as changing his username to set his account apart from scam accounts. Along with changing his name, the Ethereum co-founder even called out Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to fix the issue.

Moreover, not only has this issue affected well-known individuals in the crypto community, but it has also affected mainstream celebrities, with accounts being made in the likeness of Elon Musk’s Twitter page being seen on a near-daily basis. In fact, these accounts have become so common that Elon Musk himself acknowledged them, poking fun at the “scambots” concept in the following tweet.

While the extent of these scams is easily apparent, little is known about the operation itself, or the people behind it. But as Boing Boing reports, Adam Guerbuez, a cryptocurrency evangelist, recently received some insight on this whole scam bot debacle.

Up Close And Personal With A Scam Bot Operator 

Guerbuez, the aforementioned cryptocurrency evangelist and personality, first encountered this form of cryptocurrency scam on his Twitter, with an account promising his followers “free” Ethereum. While Guerbuez obviously knew that this tweet was made in malintent, out of curiosity, he asked the scammer if they could discuss the whole operation.

Oddly enough, the scammer agreed, likely due to the fact that the operator was a big fan of Guerbuez’s social media outlets. According to the unnamed individual, these scams can rake in upwards of $50,000 a day, with a good day potentially pulling in a staggering $100,000 in Ethereum. While the claims were not backed up by any evidence, taking into account the prevalence of these scams, it is more than likely that these figures are well warranted.

The scammer went on to explain the inner workings of his/her/their operations, adding that the bots are run by small teams that enlist the help of many automated practices. The scammer wrote:

“Well, the process from generating accounts, to tweeting to rotating ETH wallet address is all done automatic by our bots. The only manual process is cashing out.”

Closing off the interview, the scammer, referred to as “ETHGiveaway” by Boing Boing, explained that Twitter verified accounts (the accounts with a blue checkmark beside their name) while costing upwards of $1,000, are of no use to scammers anymore, as “mooches (scammed individuals) will send ETH to any account we make.”

Although Twitter may be doing its best to crack down on these scams, it is still evident that these fraudulent accounts are as common as ever in this nascent cryptosphere.

Photo by Marius Ciutacu on Unsplash

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Bitcoin Trading: Square Obtains New York BitLicense for its Cash App

Square Obtains BitLicense for Bitcoin Trading in New York

Square has achieved yet another milestone. The payment company recently became the seventh firm to obtain a cryptocurrency trading license in the state of New York. The news was announced via a press release from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) on June 18, 2018.

Square Cash App Gets BitLicense

Commonly known as a BitLicense, it grants a firm the approval to offer cryptocurrency trading services in New York. Commenting on the development, the head of Square Cash App, Brian Grassadonia said:

We are thrilled to now provide New Yorkers with Cash App’s quick and simple way to buy and sell bitcoin. Square and the New York State DFS share a vision of empowering people with greater access to the financial system and today’s news is an important step in realizing that goal.

Square began offering Bitcoin trading on its Cash App at the beginning of 2018. However, residents in New York weren’t able to use the platform due to the strict nature of the cryptocurrency regulations in the state. BitLicenses are notoriously difficult to obtain. Speaking about its latest approval, Maria Vullo, the superintendent of the NYDFS said:

DFS is pleased to approve Square’s application and welcomes them to New York’s expanding and well-regulated virtual currency market. DFS continues to work in support of a vibrant and competitive virtual currency market that connects and empowers New Yorkers in a global marketplace while ensuring strong state-regulatory oversight is in place.

Square previously obtained a money-transmitter license from the DFS.

Square Shares Up By 82 Percent in 2018

In the aftermath of the announcement, the shares of the company increased by about 1.3 percent. 2018 continues to be an excellent year for Square as its YTD share performance stands at 82 percent increase. The firm’s growth isn’t restricted to its financial performance as its legacy trading platform has also posted positive numbers.

The Square Cash App was launched in 2015. According to Nomura Instinet, the increase in the number of user downloads for the app has surpassed that of PayPal’s Venmo. Since 2016, Cash App’s user downloads have increased by 128 percent while Venmo has risen by 74 percent.

Dan Dolev, an analyst at Nomura Instinet, believes this latest BitLicense approval will catapult the company to even greater heights. Speaking to CNBC, he said:

That was one of the missing pieces in their puzzle. They had approval in most states, but New York was by far the biggest one where you couldn’t trade bitcoin. This announcement gives people another excuse to download the app. It might not move the bottom line right away, but it definitely helps from a marketing perspective.

Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, founded Square in 2009. According to a recent shareholders report, there were 7 million active users on the Cash App as at December 2017.

Will the recent BitLicense approval increase the number of downloads for the Square Cash App? Keep the conversation going in the comment section below.

Image courtesy of Twitter (@CashApp) and Business Insider.

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Wozniak Joins the “Bitcoin-Only” Brigade

Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple is a big supporter of Bitcoin. The tech luminary affectionately dubbed “Woz” is the latest member of the burgeoning “Bitcoin only” brigade. In the vast world of cryptocurrencies, there are those who believe that Bitcoin is the be-all and end-all of the cryptocurrency universe.

Bitcoin as the Single Global Currency

According to Wozniak, Bitcoin has the potential to become the single global currency of the future. Despite the current struggles of the number one cryptocurrency since reaching its peak in late 2017, Woz is bullish about the prospects of BTC. In an interview with CNBC, he declared:

I buy into what Jack Dorsey says, not that I necessarily believe it’s going to happen, but because I want it to be that way, that is so pure thinking.

Wozniak’s agrees with recent the remarks made by Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey who is himself another BTC believer. In March 2017, the Twitter boss said that BTC could become the native currency of the internet. Dorsey is a known cryptocurrency proponent. He is also the CEO of Square, one of the prominent Bitcoin trading companies in the cryptocurrency market.

Wozniak in siding with Dorsey’s views even goes several steps further. He proposes that BTC ought to be more than an internet currency, but rather, the currency for both online and offline transactions all over the world. Enforcing this belief, the Apple co-founder proceeded to say:

Bitcoin is mathematically defined, there is a certain quantity of bitcoin, there’s a way it’s distributed… and it’s pure and there’s no human running, there’s no company running and it’s just… growing and growing.

Bitcoin is Superior to Gold and Fiat

This isn’t the first positive declaration that Wozniak has made concerning Bitcoin. In fact, he has in the past said that Nakamoto’s creation is better than gold and fiat money. Speaking in October 2017, Wozniak identified the fixed supply as well as the mathematical protocols that control the way it operates as the factors that make it superior to gold and even the U.S. dollar. Elaborating on the matter, Wozniak said:

There is a certain amount of bitcoin that can ever exist. Gold gets mined and mined and mined. Maybe there’s a finite amount of gold in the world, but cryptocurrency is even more mathematical and regulated and nobody can change mathematics.

Wozniak’s Bitcoin enthusiasm hasn’t come without a price though. In March 2018, he revealed that he was defrauded of seven BTC by internet fraudsters. Despite this mishap, Wozniak is undeterred in his support for the cryptocurrency. He only owns one BTC having sold the others after becoming disillusioned with the volatile nature of the market. Wozniak first bough BTC when they were trading for about $700.

The Apple co-founder is also a big fan of Ethereum. In May 2018, he compared ETH to the way Apple was back in the 80s. He also said he believes Ethereum can revolutionize the digital application creation process.

Do you agree with Wozniak that Bitcoin will be the single global currency of the future? Keep the conversation going in the comment section below.

Image courtesy of Ethereum World News archives and CoinMarketCap.

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Jack Dorsey Hopes Bitcoin Will Become The Web's 'Native Currency'

Is bitcoin destined to become the default currency of the Internet?

At least one well-known business executive – Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square, ho previously predicted bitcoin’s future dominance back in March – hopes that’s the case. Dorsey, who is also CEO of Twitter, sat down with Elizabeth Stark of Lightning Labs at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 conference in New York City to talk more broadly about his company’s goals for the digital currency.

“I’m just approaching with the principle that the Internet deserves a native currency. It will have a native currency. I don’t know if it will be bitcoin,” said Dorsey said during Wednesday’s fireside chat, adding:

“I hope it will be bitcoin. I’m a huge fan.”

Dorsey admits the idea that bitcoin will someday be the basis for all payments made on the Internet remains a topic of debate at Square.

“We’ve led with that mindset. But there’s still a lot of skepticism and a lot of debate and a lot of fights. But that’s where the magic happens, where creativity happens,” he explained.

Despite the controversy, Dorsey argues that the vision of open access that bitcoin inspires is fundamental to the role Square has always played in the payments industry. “Any payment that comes across our table, the seller should be able to accept,” he remarked.

When Dorsey first began contemplating how to implement bitcoin payments into the Square platform with Mike Brock, an engineer at the company, the two initially settled on a goal that was grandiose in its simplicity.

Either one of them, he reasoned, should be able to walk over to the Blue Bottle across the street and buy a cup of coffee with bitcoin without the transaction looking any different than a regular dollar-denominated payment, perhaps without the cashier even knowing that bitcoin was being used.

According to Dorsey, the team had a working solution within a week.

“It felt amazing. It felt electric. And it felt like something we needed to explore a lot more,” he said.

More work to come

Square has yet to build a full bitcoin payments solution for merchants and consumers, as it quickly changed direction to work on a buying-and-selling service to be integrated into its Cash App. But Dorsey said that the goal is same as it has always been.

“We want to go back to that original idea of being able to purchase a coffee with it. And that’s why we’re working with [Lightning Labs],” said Dorsey. “Whatever it takes to get there, we’re going to make sure it happens.”

Dorsey – who counts himself as a fan of the hacker ethos surrounding bitcoin’s rise to fame – claimed that whatever path Square takes to pushing mass adoption of bitcoin payments, it will do so without threatening the openness of the network.

“There’s so much openness in the community, and I want to make sure nothing in the corporate world threatens that,” he stated, going on to say:

“We cannot risk hurting what made this possible to begin with…We can’t do any of this without the technology being strong and available for everyone.”

Photo by David Floyd for CoinDesk

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Bitcoin Will Be World's 'Single Currency' Says Twitter CEO

Jack Dorsey, chief executive of Twitter and payment company Square, has spoken of his strong belief in the future potential of bitcoin.

In an interview with The Times published Wednesday, Dorsey, himself a noted bitcoin investor, said he believes the cryptocurrency will take over the U.S. dollar’s dominant place in world finance and become the primary global currency for payments.

Suggesting the shift could happen in 10 years or perhaps less, the entrepreneur said:

“The world ultimately will have a single currency, the internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be bitcoin.”

While conceding that bitcoin is faced with scaling issues right now, making it “slow and costly,” Dorsey nonetheless argued that new solutions will ease that difficulty in the end.

“As more and more people have it, those things go away. There are newer technologies that build off of blockchain and make it more approachable,” he said.

In fact, Dorsey is putting his money where his mouth is in an effort to bring about faster, cheaper bitcoin transactions.

Last week, CoinDesk reported that Dorsey had participated in a funding round that raised $2.5 million for Lightning Labs. The startup has notably just launched its beta version of the Lightning Network, a protocol layer built above the bitcoin blockchain to speed up the transaction process, as well as lower fees.

The investment followed Square’s trial, announced last November, which allowed limited users to buy and sell bitcoin over its payment application, Cash App.

Following the test, Square is now offering the bitcoin service in the U.S. state of Wyoming, and is reportedly seeking for a so-called “BitLicense” to extend the option to New York.

Image via Flickr

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Bitcoin Lightning Startup Goes Beta With Twitter CEO Backing

A version of bitcoin’s much-anticipated Lightning Network is finally ready for real users.

Announced today, California startup Lightning Labs has officially launched a beta version of its software (LND), making available what investors and project leads say is the first thoroughly tested version of the tech to date. This means that users can now leverage LND to send bitcoin and litecoin to other users, all without settling those transactions on the blockchain.

While this software is one of several seeking to form a combined network that aims to make cryptocurrency transactions faster and cheaper, today’s development effectively takes bitcoin a step closer to new kinds of applications, such as Internet of Things payments and recurring billing.

That’s because, similar to bitcoin, the Lightning protocol isn’t managed by any one person or company. It’s a series of compatible technologies. Bitcoin-centric startup Blockstream released a candidate version 1.0 of the Lightning protocol specification in January, and ACINQ, another like-minded startup, already offers a live, yet unpredictable beta software that works with bitcoin.

Still, the Lightning Labs software is believed to be the most mature software to date – and investors are using the launch to signal their interest.

Also revealed today, Lightning Labs has raised $2.5 million from nearly a dozen investors including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Square Capital executive Jacqueline Reses, litecoin creator Charlie Lee and former PayPal COO David Sacks.

While Dorsey and Reses declined to comment other than to confirm they invested, Sacks was vocal in his belief that the beta release marks a crucial moment in bitcoin’s history.

“Lightning is the most important protocol being built on bitcoin and Lightning Labs is the best developer of that protocol,” Sacks told CoinDesk.

Fellow investor Ben Davenport, CTO at the blockchain security company BitGo, agreed the launch is a pivotal milestone.

He told CoinDesk:

“It’s something the entire community has been focused on and working towards for the better part of two years now. It’s really the culmination of a lot of work by many people, not just Lightning Labs. … We see it as a very important piece of the scaling solution for bitcoin, and perhaps other digital currencies as well.”

Team spirit

To Lee’s point, thousands of people around the world contributed to today’s Lightning release, from volunteer testers who helped find bugs in the original alpha version, to developers like Jim Posen at the exchange platform Coinbase, who contributed code through GitHub.

“The community engagement around Lightning has been amazing,” Lightning Labs CEO Elizabeth Stark told CoinDesk, adding that she plans to keep the software freely accessible. “The protocol will always be open source and right now everything we are making will be open source,” she said.

When Stark asked the audience at a recent decentralization summit in Berlin who had already tested Lightning, hundreds of people raised their hands. “We have around 1,800 people on the Slack for LND alone,” she added. “We already have dozens of apps that developers have built.”

But it’s important to note that even this beta should be used with caution.

Stark’s team built in a few safety measures to limit the amount of cryptocurrency people can send for now to roughly $1,400 worth per channel, or around $400 per payment. The target demographic for the release is developers and “advanced users” who are able to run a full node and use LND’s command-line interface.

Stark went on to warn that users should not experiment with more money than they are willing to lose.

“We were not recommending use on the main bitcoin network before this beta because there are certain features, such as a wallet seed backup, that were not there previously. There are new features included as well, there are bug fixes and stability improvements,” she explained.

Booting up

Still, it’s a release that’s likely to spur interest and engagement, given that developers are already sending money over the network – regardless of warnings.

As such, Stark now expects people with the skills to host their own bitcoin or litecoin node to add Lightning Labs’ free software to the mix for quicker, cheaper transactions. Already, there are already roughly a 1,000 nodes implementing Lightning software. Investors in the project believe the release will boost that growing number.

Davenport said:

“What I hope to see, and am optimistic to see, is a Cambrian explosion of development of Lightning-based apps and other things that incorporate Lightning.”

Several contributors spoke of Lightning as a long-term investment in blockchain infrastructure, something that Lee, whose time is dedicated toward a wholly different protocol, spoke to.

A long-time advocate for Lightning, Lee expressed his hope that even more experiments will now be possible with the software, including transactions that occur across blockchains.

“It’s great to see Lightning Network being used in the real world. I’m also excited to soon being able to do cross-chain atomic swaps between bitcoin and litecoin,” he said.

In this way, Lee’s comments can be seen as summing up the impact of the day’s news.

If bitcoin really is the ground floor of the emerging cryptocurrency ecosystem, then Lightning is the first staircase. This release marks a vote of confidence that the staircase really is safe for builders to start, with cautious steps, climbing up.

Copper wiring image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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A Bitcoin Twitter War Is Raging And No Account Is Safe

“Paging @Bitcoin. These tweets don’t help anyone.”

At first glance, the tweet, from investor and entrepreneur Nick Tomaino, might not be distinguishable in the all-out flame war that crypto Twitter – and all crypto social media – has become.

But while the situation has long been simmering, Tomaino’s tweet comes at what might be a new boiling point, following what was arguably the popular handle’s most controversial message in history.

Issued Wednesday, the tweet found @bitcoin sending a message to its more than 800,000 followers that, as Tomaino’s tweet shows, even impartial observers would admit was incendiary, attacking the group that maintains the cryptocurrency’s most widely used software and promoting an alternative cryptocurrency that split off last year.

But for some, the tweet was merely a confirmation of what was already clear – the account has passed over to new ownership that appears to have the intent of pushing a controversial view.

Indeed, for several months, the current @bitcoin administrator has arguably been promoting bitcoin cash instead of the original cryptocurrency, posting content that, at the very least, seems subversive to today’s mainstream view of technical development.

And this has marked a sharp change from years past.

Launched in 2011, @bitcoin has long been tweeting basic cryptocurrency tips and news, and the anonymous account has had several administrators over the years.

CoinDesk itself even leased the handle from 2013 to 2016, but amidst leadership changes, any agreements with any individual that may have been in place have long since gone missing. (Emails to CoinDesk’s former ownership and executives have gone unreturned.)

Still, the recent tweets aren’t just happening in isolation, coming at a time when Twitter has seen a dramatic uptick in cryptocurrency scams across the platform broadly, from fraudulent verified accounts to a general increase in copycat accounts.

Escalating the situation, dozens of crypto accounts were suddenly suspended or “shadowbanned” this week, meaning their posts have in some cases disappeared from searches and followers’ feeds.

RoBhat Labs co-founder Ash Bhat, who makes social media tools to identify bots and propaganda, told CoinDesk that he believes the social media giant is failing to protect its user experience from manipulative campaigns and bots.

Bhat said:

“You essentially have voices and opinions being amplified that don’t represent the human user base. From Twitter’s bottomline perspective, this is horrendous.”

Message received

Adding interest to the story is that, far from ignoring the problem, Twitter’s leadership has been outspoken about the role it’s now playing in cryptocurrency discourse.

In a blog post in November, Twitter touted its place in the conversation, highlighting the notable individuals that have tweeted about bitcoin, while pointing to charts and data that indicated the size of the conversation was among its fastest-growing.

“We’re seeing Bitcoin ($BTC) conversation volume alone exceeding that of the FANG stocks (Facebook $FB, Apple $AAPL, Netflix $NFLX, Google $GOOG) on a daily basis,” the company wrote.

Against this backdrop, Twitter appears to be taking steps to defend its position amidst the recent controversies.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted a series of tweets last week expressing concerns about the platform’s ability to offer a beneficial service. On Thursday, he appeared on video suggesting one way to curtail digital coin scams would be to verify all user accounts, or at least open the option to all accounts.

Creating a norm where people need to verify facts about themselves would almost be reminiscent of Facebook’s “real name” policy, which is controversial and widely criticized.

Still, Twitter’s formal statement about cryptocurrency scams was less clear about what might be ahead.

“We’re aware of this form of manipulation and are proactively implementing a number of signals to prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner,” the company told CoinDesk in a press statement.

But both comments provide evidence that, in shutting down and shadowbanning multiple crypto-related accounts, the company acknowledges it finds itself in the middle of determining just what accounts for malicious behavior when discussing emerging technology.

Some bitcoin traditionalists, like Bitcoin Core advocate Peter Todd, for example, are reporting @bitcoin for allegedly misrepresenting bitcoin, and Twitter’s response to Todd has been that @bitcoin’s tone violated the platform’s policies.

Moderation or censorship

But as the exchange between Todd and Twitter shows, when it comes to cryptocurrency, it can be tricky to distinguish moderation from censorship.

Eliminating bots is almost a universal goal. However, restricting people, organizations and anonymous educational accounts like @bitcoin are a different matter entirely. How should Twitter define deception or manipulation when discussing amorphous ideas?

Todd believes the line between shilling and spreading misinformation is elusive at best.

“Suppose I’m a IOTA supporter. I can silence my critics by falsely reporting them, and hoping Twitter’s AI interprets that as a reason to shadowban someone … The @bitcoin account is a great example: knowing if that should be banned is a seriously tricky problem that requires a lot of industry-specific knowledge,” he said.

Cryptocurrency analyst and investor Brad Mills is another Twitter user who discovered the dangers of algorithmic moderation firsthand.

For months, he has played an active role in the debate about what defines bitcoin as an idea, but shortly after Dorsey tweeted Twitter will curb cryptocurrency scams, Mills’ account was abruptly suspended for two days.

Still, as his comments showcase, determining well-intentioned and malicious behavior can be difficult, especially when from an outside perspective, both appear the same.

He told CoinDesk:

“The people who seem to have been banned were heavily in the debate about bitcoin versus bitcoin cash. But the other interesting thing is we’ve all been reporting those phishing accounts like crazy. So, we probably have both received reports, blocked by people on the other side of the debate and we’ve been giving an access of reports and blocks to all those phishing accounts.”

The result is that Bhat believes Twitter needs to be more active about getting user feedback to help algorithms distinguish bots from opinionated people.

However, Kat Lo, a PhD student researching online moderation at the University of California Irvine, agreed, going so far as to argue that deploying both software and a team of human moderators with industry-specific knowledge could provide a better solution.

“A major obstacle in many of these cases is that a lot of moderation judgement relies on context, and most moderation systems intended for large-scale platforms don’t incorporate significant context into their review process,” she said.

Splitting along party lines

But the problem isn’t unique to bitcoin.

Other cryptocurrency communities, such as those that have formed around ETH, XRP, NEO  and other large cryptocurrencies, voluntarily promote the products and services of investable assets, often in a way that borders on outright spam.

But Todd went on to showcase just how difficult it would be for even humans hired by Twitter to moderate the ongoing debate. To Todd, an outspoken bitcoin maximalist, any and all crypto assets that aren’t based on bitcoin’s pioneering proof-of-work are likely scams.

In this way, Todd doesn’t mind some level of shadowbanning, just as long as it favors his preference, and that means having a lot less people constantly promoting specific tokens.

“Those accounts are annoying and detract from my Twitter experience,” Todd said. “Hiding their tweets to me would be a benefit, and something I’d like.”

One Twitter user who experienced a temporary shadowban on Tuesday, @Joebwankanobee, told CoinDesk subjective moderation doesn’t help cryptocurrency communities.

In fact, the lack of censorship is precisely why he prefers Twitter over other platforms.

“While I understand that’s frustrating, I also firmly believe that someone should be doing their own research on something and that they alone are responsible for the moves they make with their money,” @Joebwankanobee said.

And there is reason to support his belief that Facebook has been perhaps too restrictive – in January, the social media giant announced a new policy banning advertisements for bitcoin, initial coin offerings and other types of cryptocurrency.

Decentralizing communication

But Twitter’s specific problem might go a bit further than Facebook’s.

After all, in some cases, the specific messages that are falling afoul of users may amount to advertisements, but they’re also statements supposedly being made by individuals.

As such, some cryptocurrency fans have come to believe the problem lies with centralized media infrastructures in which management and moderation falls to a central authority, in this case Twitter and Facebook.

Muneeb Ali, co-founder of the decentralized internet project Blockstack, told CoinDesk:

“Twitter’s response to banning bots has been to ban real accounts, some with tens of thousands of followers, leaving innocent people defenseless against imitators and ultimately stifling freedom of speech … Twitter is a public utility that is too precious to remain centralized.”

Already, Ali said, developers are working to build decentralized versions of social media that would run on the open-source technology it is developing.

As the situation with crypto Twitter shows, decentralization may be able to offer benefits. The main “defense” Twitter users have against censorship today is to get verified and reactively appeal restrictions, but these options favor celebrities and brands over regular individuals.

But such solutions might not help any problems today.

With Twitter yet to clarify how it finds and defines abusive behavior related to cryptocurrency, many users will be left with the fear of losing their brand platforms by participating in a game without clear rules or referees.

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