As if things couldn’t get any stranger in 2020, yesterday the world was bombarded with some of the world’s biggest celebrities all suddenly getting very generous with Bitcoin. The likes of Kanye West, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Joe Bidden and a number of major cryptocurrency platforms all said they would double the Bitcoin people sent them on Twitter.
Of course, this all turned out to be a major scam as these celebrities firstly had nothing to do with the offer, and the offer was, of course, fake in an attempt to accumulate funds. The hack hover was of such a magnitude that it broke onto mainstream news.
That is not the surprising part as this hack showed the vulnerabilities of Twitter, but what was surprising was the sinuations and ambiguous headlines that led people to believe that somehow Bitcoin was part of this; that Bitcoin was hacked, or the scam came from Bitcoin.
This is entirely false, and misleading, and probably only done in order to use the keyword ‘Bitcoin’ in the article to get more traffic. The same thing would not be being said if the hackers had demanded US dollars in their scam.
On popular social media site it was reported: “Elon Musk, Kanye West, Jeff Bezos and others hit by massive Bitcoin hacking scam.” Nowhere was it reported that “Elon Musk, Kanye West, Jeff Bezos and others hit by massive Dollar hacking scam”.
Twitter to blame
Twitter has come forward to explain what happened, labelling it as a “social engineering attack.”
“We know they used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf,” Twitter Support said. “We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it.”
As it has been explained now, the fault lay with Twitter and their platform’s vulnerabilities, but it had nothing to do with Bitcoin. Bitcoin has had a shady reputation in the past, and struggled to shake it, so when there are illicit occurrences that are linked to the digital currency it is all too easy to make it sound like a Bitcoin problem.
The issue is that this has nothing to do with Bitcoin because Bitcoin is not a thing that can act. It is not a bad actor, or a centralised platform, it is a decentralised payment system that was in this case used to effect the scam but is no more complicated than the internet or the computers that the hackers tweeted from.
Bitcoin is a tool, and a rather successful tool too because of its decentralised nature. Twitter is a tool, and a platform, but its faults in this instance have shown its vulnerabilities and the dangers that can come. In fact, had Twitter been more like Bitcoin, and blockchain-based with its immutability and decentralisation, there is every chance something like this could never happen.
Don’t trust, verify
Bitcoin, and by extension blockchain, has been built on the premise of ‘Don’t trust, verify’. However, this practice is yet to be fully embraced and it is instances like this Twitter hack that actually highlights the need for people to stop trusting in centralized platforms.
The dangers of these platforms are well highlighted in the tweets above, but it is more than the platforms that are the problem, it is the entire thinking and system. In this time, Bitcoin should not be getting secondary blame for this, it should be seen in a new light as a tool that can change an entire mindset so stuff like this never happens again.