Who Has the Right to Use @bitcoin Twitter Handle?

Bitcoin, News, Opinion

The @bitcoin Twitter handle was suspended April 8, 2018, and immediately snapped up by a random individual that appeared to have little interest in the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency. The new owner posted a few random tweets about Turkey and received several offers from members of the Bitcoin community who wanted to buy the handle.

Before the handle was suspended, it had over 750,000 followers, but the new owner had to start from scratch.

With a handle like @bitcoin, it didn’t take the new owner long to attract several thousand followers, which was based on nothing more than a few two or three-word tweets. Some of the offers the new owner received were quite significant at $500,000 or more. Technically, the new owner wouldn’t be able to sell the handle as it’s against Twitter’s TOS, but there is little they can do to stop it.

When news broke that the handle had been “taken over,” the crypto community heavyweights quickly chipped in with their thoughts. After seeing suggestions that it should be purchased from the new owner and passed to Andreas Antonopoulos, he tweeted: “I don’t want it. But if you give it to me, I promise to permanently decommission it and remove it from use, thereby removing any semblance of an “official” authority that can speak for bitcoin.

Roger Ver, who some consider had been using the @bitcoin handle based on analysis of his Twitter account and the Bitcoin account, tweeted: “I’ve never owned the @bitcoin account. It is owned by someone involved in Bitcoin since 2009. He supports #BCH, is well known in the Bitcoin ecosystem, but doesn’t want to deal with incessant trolling so he has chosen not to make his identity public.

By April 10, 2018, the original owner of the handle was handed back control by Twitter, and the original followers were added to the account. The assumption is that the community behind the Bitcoin Core blockchain technology originally asked Twitter to suspend the account because they thought it was being used fraudulently to promote Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Roger Ver, himself a Bitcoin Cash supporter, confirmed the owner of the @bitcoin handle is also a BCH supporter.

If @Nissan tried to use the @Ford handle to promote Nissan cars or post disparaging tweets about Ford Motor Company, Nissan would be promptly stopped by Twitter, but because Bitcoin isn’t a company, the @bitcoin handle is open to abuse. If the owner of the handle didn’t openly support Bitcoin Cash, it’s unlikely that either the Bitcoin Core or the Bitcoin Cash community would care who owned it. Bitcoin Cash frequently uses the slogan “The Real Bitcoin,” and their supporters are free to believe what they like, but since it didn’t exist until 2017, some eight years after Bitcoin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto, they are being economical with the truth, to say the least.

The in-fighting between the two communities looks set to continue and, ultimately, they both suffer since most people don’t have a clue what to believe when they read the opposing views.

Financial analyst, smartphone app designer, technical writer, and crypto enthusiast. Blockchain verified graduate of MOOC 9, DFIN-511: Introduction to Digital Currencies, run by the University of Nicosia.

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