Twitter briefly shut down @Bitcoin, sparking wild conspiracy theories

Photo by Michele Doying / The Verge

Twitter suspended the @Bitcoin Twitter account, which is run by an anonymous user, over the weekend. The account was briefly taken over by a user who claimed to be Turkish, then by a user who claimed to be Russian, before apparently being restored to its previous owner Monday afternoon.

“We do not comment on individual accounts so nothing to share,” a Twitter spokesperson said when asked about the suspension. “That’s some bullshit if you ask me,” the user behind @Bitcoin tweeted. “I’d like to know why my account was given to someone else, and then when it’s reinstated I’m missing 750,000 of my followers.”

The @Bitcoin account had more than 821,000 followers when it was suspended. Those followers disappeared, but it appears that Twitter is slowly restoring them.

The mysterious suspension naturally stoked conspiracy theories in the Bitcoin community. The @Bitcoin account is supportive of Bitcoin Cash, also known as Bcash. Bitcoin Cash was founded by a group of developers, miners, and other members of the community who split off in August 2017, duplicating the bitcoin blockchain and establishing a new cryptocurrency, after a dispute over how to address the growing network’s scaling issues.

The relationship between Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin, or Bitcoin Core, is acrimonious. Some Bitcoin Cash supporters suspected that their enemies on the Bitcoin Core side caused @Bitcoin’s suspension by falsely reporting it to Twitter for spam or harassment.

There have been calls to report the @Bitcoin account before. In January, a user called on others to report the account, calling it a “Fake @Bitcoin account.” Some members of the community agreed while others objected, saying the owner of the account should be able to tweet about whatever they want. As with many online conversations about bitcoin, it’s difficult to tell who is real and who is a sock puppet; the thread was eventually locked because the moderators claimed users were “brigading and vote cheating.” Similarly, on Twitter, there was a flood of tweets from accounts claiming that they had reported @Bitcoin for spreading what they viewed as propaganda for Bitcoin Cash. Others said they reported it for “spam,” “hate speech,” or “price pumping.” “I complained to Google, because when I would Google bitcoin I would get a prominently displayed Twitter feed of @Bitcoin with three separate posts, and always the first one was that bcash was the real bitcoin,” reads one Reddit comment. “I found it a fraudulent statement intended to confuse and induce newbies to buy their cheap knock off product.”

Some said they believed the account had been previously been hijacked by Bitcoin Cash supporter Roger Ver. The account, which was registered in August 2011 according to its Twitter bio, only began tweeting about Bitcoin Cash in January. At the time, @Bitcoin tweeted, “The ownership of this account has not changed hands. I became busy with other things, much has changed since then and I’ve decided to take a more active role in the community once again.” Ver claims he has no connection to the account, and that it “is owned by someone involved in Bitcoin since 2009.”

A deeper conspiracy theory says that Twitter suspended the account because of CEO Jack Dorsey’s support for Bitcoin Core and $2.5 million investment in Lightning Labs, a startup building technology for Bitcoin Core.

“I’d love to hear a public explanation from @twittersupport about why #bitcoin competitor #LightningNetwork investor @jack disabled this account, gave it to someone else, only to return it in the face of public backlash with 750,000 fewer followers,” the @Bitcoin account tweeted after being restored.

Some felt that the @Bitcoin account shouldn’t be used by anyone. “Twitter is a platform for people to promote their own agenda,” tweeted Nick Tomaino, a cryptocurrency venture capital investor. “Only right that @bitcoin stays inactive/suspended.”

Twitter started blocking cryptocurrency-related ads at the end of March but confirmed it does not have content rules specific to cryptocurrencies.

Comments

Are we almost done with Twitter yet?

Maybe we can go back to people posting things on their websites?

I seriously don’t understand why anyone even uses Twitter anymore. It lost its luster ages ago, I see no point in opening the app for anything.

Same. I used to be a huge Twitter user but ended up deleting it last month. It’s completely lost its fun and it just wasn’t worth my time anymore.

Twitter isn’t going anywhere. It’s the best place for public figures to make statements digitally, and also the best place for viral content.

Besides the few accounts above me, Twitter still is extremely useful for news so I continue to use it. Also, lol. Bitcoin communities will have a conspiracy for anything related to bitcoin.

IF the conspiracy is that big stock wants to get rid of a new stable currency they can’t control, then yes, you are correct.

If you enjoy hate speech, fake news & porn bots then Twitter is for you. Personally, I left Twitter in 2014 because even before Trump was tweeting Twitter felt like a cesspool of hate and despair.

If you follow Trump, Bitcoin and porn bots isn’t it you who has a problem ?

The fact that the author refers to Bitcoin Cash as Bcash proves [s]he is either completely ignorant of the difference between the two currencies and has adopted the Bitcoin Core slander narrative (Bcash is a pejorative term), or the author is trolling. I’m going to be generous and assume the former.

Visit r/btc, the real bitcoin subreddit, to learn what’s really going on.

This. Regardless of whether you care about the debate or particularly agree with either side, saying "Bitcoin Cash, also known as Bcash" is as reasonable as saying "white caucasians, also known as honky crackers." Bcash is a smear term used by hardcore Bitcoin Core supporters.

@Bitcoin is clearly owned by the same trolls who are profiteering by misleading people into thinking that Bitcoin = Bitcoin Cash.

That account belongs to the public and it’s pathetic that Twitter does not do something about it

Bitcoin is still the dumbest thing we’ve invented in the last 10 years.

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