How NOT to Get PR (Op-Ed)
Yesterday afternoon EST, a small Spanish Bitcoin association posted a mysterious press release on several Facebook Bitcoin groups, stating that the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto’s addresses were subject to “movement.”
Yesterday afternoon EST, a small Spanish Bitcoin association posted a mysterious press release on several Facebook Bitcoin groups, stating that the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto’s addresses were subject to “movement.” They heavily implied that Nakamoto himself was moving his coins, and that this was breaking news.
The Bitcoin scene is a relatively new one, where breakthroughs are almost every day occurrences. Such news as the creator himself moving his large funds are even more newsworthy, whoever discovered this would be notable immediately.
This particular news piece touches every bitcoiner, from trollboxes to reddit, the internet would be aflame with the arrival of the Bitcoin messiah. And whoever was attached to this particular news: an instant celebrity.
It goes without saying that celebrity status has all kinds of perks, the main being that it improves one’s ability to earn more money. Since it is common to hear rags-to-riches stories related to Bitcoin, it’s very likely that some individuals are very motivated to gain relevance in this space; and perhaps a share of the benefits.
Some projects are like the vedettes of this “circus”: Ethereum, Storj, Blockchain.info, SatoshiDice, and so on. Investments have readily flowed into them, often in millions of dollars, whether from rich Venture Capitalists or simple crowdfunded sales.
However, you don’t need to be big or build complex things, attention and celebrity status can often have the same monetary benefits on small things, such as crazy artist MRKLYE’s bizarre collaborative drawings which go lengths to show how going viral has positive effects on personal wealth. The bitcoin address listed in his forum post has so far gotten about 32 thousand dollars.
Then we have these other people. People who either don’t know, don’t want or are simply not able to do anything legitimate to gain notoriety.
We, as a relevant media outlet in the Bitcoin space, feel obliged to purge what’s true from what it’s not; we need to give an inkling of doubt to every claim and analyze whatever trace of truth abounds.
That’s why we analyzed a large random sample of all the Bitcoin addresses posted in the mysterious claim. Only to find out that far from being proof of Satoshi’s awakening they’re just—as you might have noticed—blockchain.info spam.
Earlier yesterday, a member of the avalbit society approached Cointelegraph with an “exclusive” and “newsworthy” statement that would be “a big one”, only to reveal hours later what we have shown right now.
Avalbit’s public statement was readily dismissed. Much due diligence was also made about the claimants: phones, addresses, names, emails, financial statements and more.
When people have misconceptions and they propagate them, damage is done. Critical thinking is not the most available substance in the Universe, while some people are quick to dismiss what seems odd about a news piece, living in democracies during election times—as it is happening in Argentina—goes great lengths to show how media and the systematic spread of disinformation can be used a weapon.
Cointelegraph takes truth very seriously, as there are people who are very aware of which psychological tricks to play upon excitable media outlets. They use the same kind of tricks to lure you into a false sense of confidence around them, even turning victims into early true-believing promoters (like PBMining did). After doing that, they strike and strip away whatever assets they can from their targets. It’s their way of life.
Sooner or later, evidence shows up and debunks these fraudsters. Bernie Madoff is the most prominent example of how far can this go. He was NASDAQ’s Chairman when his Ponzi scheme failed, he had already embezzled 64.8 billion dollars. That’s about the GDP of Dominican Republic.
Regardless of the processes and motivations of people leading to this particular situation, I’ll try not to judge the one in the story. If they were indeed malicious and playing the fool, they might as well try their luck more times until they fail. If they were not, this is just a tale of misunderstandings.
I believe it is my duty to prompt the reader’s critical thinking and spark the light of reasoning and skepticism as much as I can. We all benefit from it. Personally, I remain an optimist concluding that this might just be the product of their own PR clumsiness. As such we must never forget the old adage:
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
Thanks for reading.