Following BTC’s historical price surge in 2013, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies stole the show and became the most talked about topics in the mainstream media (MSM). And with the rapid growth of the crypto space, mainstream media coverage has grown to a crescendo – Bitcoin being a central focus. Despite the relentless negative PR of Bitcoin, the flagship crypto seems unshaken from the prolific media coverage on cryptocurrencies.
But still, the “Fake News” revolving around Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies can not be dismissed or taken lightly. Mainstream media coverage on cryptocurrencies have been short of factual information and filled with propaganda. These news outlets publish stories with no factual backing, perhaps to get to rank higher in web searches and get clicks from unsuspecting users. The reckless reporting by mainstream media has made confusing remarks about cryptocurrencies as most people still struggle to get the most basic info about cryptos right.
Could the 4th branch of the government be responsible? Well, established MSM outlets such as Fox, CNBC, and Bloomberg in the US and The Sun, Express and Daily Mail in the UK have all published undiscerning information about Bitcoin during its infancy phase. Such false reporting has led folks in the crypto community to believe that banks are colluding with MSM to spread fake news stories about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to stop the rise of digital currencies, which could disrupt the traditional financial system.
Here, we look at some absurd, non-factual stories by mainstream media that aim to taint the image of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in the public eye.
Date of publication: 16th July 2020
BBC News did a story on the Twitter hack that saw high-profile accounts such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Kanye West, and Jeff Bezos falsely tweet requests for bitcoin. Part of the tweet from Mr. Gates’ account read:
“Everyone is asking me to give back, you send $1,000, I send you back $2,000”.
The BBC reported that Twitter confirmed it was a “coordinated” attack targeting its employees “with access to internal systems and tolls”. Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey tweeted: “Tough day for at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened.” The report added that Twitter had taken significant steps to limit access to such internal systems and tools when the investigation was still taking place.
While the reporting was good, BBC News had to drag Bitcoin’s name into the scam, implying that the hack was for bitcoin. In the Twitter hack, bitcoin was only used as a transaction currency thanks to its anonymity, but the Bitcoin network was not compromised. The hackers could have decided to use other payment means-maybe give out a PayPal address etc. Therefore, it was wrong for BBC News to report the Twitter hack as a “Bitcoin scam” since Bitcoin was never hacked.
Date of Publication: 6th June 2020
Several mainstream media outlets have reported on how cryptocurrencies are a safe haven for investments during the Covid-19 pandemic period. For instance, Bloomberg has reported that numerous companies are talking up Bitcoin as a hedge against an inflammatory spiral or currency crisis. However, not all mainstream media are understanding this concept.
ABC Money reported that trading cryptocurrencies is not safe during this Covid-19 pandemic. “Trading cryptocurrencies is not safe during this pandemic. It is the nature of humans to protect their wealth and money. At the same time, during this pandemic wherein the economic status has been down, no crypto traders will perform trading when the chance of recovering from the damage done by this pandemic is ambiguous”.
The news goes on to report on the effects of coronavirus on crypto-mining. “For the past few years, there has been a formulation of different equipment for crypto mining. Since the price is still low, these crypto-mining tools are wasted. In connection with this, to get a balanced algorithm, many mining farms get more popular than crypto-mining tools and equipment. The mining farms became popular because of quarantine and isolation. This is because mining farms only require less movement. During this pandemic, the different cryptocurrencies have a low-price exchange”.
From the news, it’s obvious that the reporter has no background in cryptocurrency. While the pandemic has affected financial markets, including the crypto market, it doesn’t make trading cryptocurrencies unsafe. Reporting that no crypto trader will trade cryptocurrencies because of the pandemic is rather absurd. Also, stating that the crypto-mining tools are wasted because crypto prices are still low is completely non-factual. The report scares investors from trading cryptos during this pandemic.
Wall Street Journal
Date of Publication: 6th December 2019
The Wall Street Journal has been against cryptocurrencies since its onset. On 6th December last year, the Journal reported on Bitcoin’s short-lived hype. Part of the report read:
“The energy that drove bitcoin and the cryptocurrency industry through much of the early years has been replaced by the sobering reality that creating new global monetary standards requires more than computer code,” the publication wrote, citing data from research firm Flipside Crypto. “Apparently, in the last week of November, only about 14% of the 18 million outstanding Bitcoin was actively traded. Now, with the number of daily Bitcoin transactions falling, hopes rest with institutional investors, and there have been signs of progress on this front”.
The report clearly shows how MSM perceives cryptocurrencies- a hoax that will soon burst away. The story is outright dismissing digital currencies stating that a monetary currency is beyond simple computer codes.
Date of publication: 1st October 2019
Bloomberg has been publishing regular news pieces on cryptocurrencies. In October, the outlet ran a story on how Tether-a stablecoin backed by the USD was more important in the crypto ecosystem compared to Bitcoin. “With Tether’s monthly trading volume about 18% higher than that of Bitcoin, it’s arguably the most important coin in the crypto ecosystem. Tether’s also one of the main reasons why regulators regard cryptocurrencies with a wary eye and have put the brakes on crypto exchange-traded funds amid concern of market manipulation”.
Bloomberg also quotes the opinion of Thaddeus Dryja, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: I don’t think people actually trust Tether — I think people use Tether without realizing that they are using it, and instead think they have actual dollars in a bank account somewhere,”
The publication was full of misinformation regarding stablecoins. It reported that most people hold Tether without even realizing it. It also claimed that most crypto exchanges use Tether as the main currency since they don’t have bank accounts and can’t hold dollars on behalf of customers. The reporting seemed to be promoting Tether amidst the company’s scandalous allegations of a coverup to hide the loss of $850 million of the commingled client and corporate funds.
Mainstream media has always published fear-instilling crypto stories to taint the image of crypto in the public eyes. Reckless reporting by MSM has left the general public skeptical and clueless about cryptocurrencies.
Even with the many pleasantries of crypto and blockchain technology, fake news is an enormous bottleneck towards the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies. Established news outlets should hire experienced and knowledgeable crypto reporters to provide proper and factual coverage of the crypto space OR should refrain from publishing news related to cryptocurrencies if they are clueless about the topic.