TL;DR: Embattled Hong Kong cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex is being accused of hiring a company to manipulate social media in their favor. A long-time anonymous critic recently published evidence pointing to at least an aggressive campaign on the exchange’s behalf in mid-to-late 2018. If true, it’s yet another example of how vested interests in the ecosystem game support and attempt to suppress organic dissent.
Bitfinex Accused of Hiring PIDC to Manipulate Social Media
“On December 2017, Bitfinex hired a company called PIDC Networks to manipulate social media,” the whistleblower, anonymous Twitter account Bitfinex’ed insisted. “They were also involved in spamming me with hundreds of thousands of fake followers and other forms of social media manipulation.”
The exchange is one of the oldest in the space, and is owned by iFinex Inc. which is currently in a legal battle with the state of New York over cominginling and missing funds allegations involving it and Tether. The investigation is ongoing, and motions from both the Attorney General and the exchange routinely dominate headlines. For as long as Bitfinex has been in business, it has also been embroiled in missing funds controversies, from hacks to fines to a security breach resulting in over $70 million in stolen funds.
Its reputation has taken a beating, as critics such as Bitfinex’ed have continued to sound alarms about the exchange’s practices and its relationship with stablecoin Tether (USDT). “The firm they hired would post fake positive reviews about Bitfinex,” the anonymous account stressed. “I also noticed that on Twitter a lot of the accounts that were posting fake positive reviews, would have on their profile their location in the United States, a country Bitfinex allegedly doesn’t support.”
Fake Profiles, Comment Spam, Reviews
Evidence provided by Bitfinex’ed through a series of screenshots appear to show PIDC formed during late 2017 in India. Tharanraj and Sourinathan M Jayalakshmi are listed as Directors. In the next set of screenshots, there is chatter in something like a Telegram group about various ways in which the company is engaged. By summer of 2018, PIDC operatives were reportedly active on sites such as Twitter, Cryptocompare, Medium, and Wikipedia — all sites heavily dependent on what’s known as brigading and gaming. Fake profiles, comment spam, reviews are mentioned as possible PIDC services.
A Reddit campaign of some kind seems to have be in the works around mid-2018 as well, with PIDC members encouraged “to scout tether, bitfinex and ethfinex subreddits and [find] negative/FUD about the company and downvote it.” There’s also a lot of talk about not being discovered and regarding the number of comments and posts, with emphasis on varying content and mixing things up as to not appear formulaic or inorganic.
If true and properly characterized, the messages are something of a familiar phenomenon for cryptocurrency veterans. Examples abound, but perhaps the most notorious involve infamous Bitcoin scaling debates. Reddit is valuable social media real estate for Bitcoiners, and so controlling its popular subreddit r/Bitcoin, for example, became key in maintaining the status quo for business interests who stood to benefit from keeping block sizes small and on-chailing scaling to a minimum … implications still being felt to the present. John Blocke‘s Medium series on the issue is enlightening.
To that point, enthusiast and philosopher Rick Falkvinge recently detailed similar ongoings in Swedish politics (see video embed below). He described bursts of sudden outrage and clear attempts to divide a movement then-gaining popularity, and the problem of at once welcoming new people attracted to compelling ideas while attempting to flush out obvious manipulation. It’s not always easy to spot, but it is a pattern more are noticing and documenting.
For more in-depth discussion, read here.
DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH.
CONTINUE THE SPICE and check out our piping hot VIDEOS. Our podcast, The CoinSpice Podcast, has amazing guests. Follow CoinSpice on Twitter. Join our Telegram feed to make sure you never miss a post. Drop some BCH at the merch shop — we’ve got some spicy shirts for men and women. Don’t forget to help spread the word about CoinSpice on social media.