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Twitter Threatens Hal Finney-Like Accounts, Bitcoiners Defend Memory as Jack Moves to Africa

TL;DR: Recently, Twitter sent notice to so-called inactive accounts, announcing holders must login by December 11, 2019 and follow certain instructions in order to keep the handle live. Bitcoiners immediately realized how community memorialized accounts, such as those like Bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney’s, were in danger. Online protests mounted, and the company seems to have backed off for the moment. 

Twitter Threatens Hal Finney-Like Accounts

The ecosystem jury is still very much out as to who Satoshi Nakamoto might have been, be it a singular person or team. One aspect of the mystery is solved, however, and that was in the person of computer scientist Hal Finney. He was on the receiving end of the first every bitcoin sent by Satoshi, and therefore tied closely to the project from the beginning. Finney died tragically in 2014 from ALS complications after a very public battle with the disease.

Hal Finney and wife shortly before his passing.

Since then, his early tweets about Bitcoin and the circumstances of his death (being cryogenically frozen) have become legend, and the crypto community often cites Finney in exchanges, debates. He’s also a historical reference in financial technology development for scholars. One of the first social media messages ever about the subject was from Finney, reading simply, “Running bitcoin,” and dates to January 10, 2009.

And so Bitcoiners realized the implications of Finney-like accounts, nuggets of important documentary history, would be effectively ghosted by Twitter should its policy take hold. That, and as anyone can imagine, a loved one’s final words online might hold a special place independent of the person’s historical significance. Outrage from at least those two sides grew, and Twitter appears to be officially backing down on its ultimatum.

Looking at Ways to add More Anonymity to Bitcoin

“We’ve heard you on the impact that this would have on the accounts of the deceased,” the social media giant explained. “This was a miss on our part. We will not be removing any inactive accounts until we create a new way for people to memorialize accounts.” For now, Twitter elaborated, the new policy will only impact European Union users due to the company’s attempt at complying with GDPR regulations governing privacy.

Blowback stems from the ubiquity social media now plays in everyday life. Twitter and related platforms have become where many gather news, research important topics, and, again, use for citation as proof buttressing whatever point. Regarding the on-going issue of Bitcoin and privacy, for example, Finney’s tweet later that same month in 2009, “Looking at ways to add more anonymity to bitcoin,” might help in present discussions about the subject.

In the meantime, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey has gone native, apparently suggesting he’s to relocate in the future for a spell to undisclosed parts of Africa for an extended visit of up-to six months. For the last few weeks, Dorsey posted about his travels in Africa, from South Africa to Ghana and, more recently, Ethiopia. It’s at least due in part to something of a spiritual quest for the classic oversharing mogul and crypto advocate, a practice known as Vipassana. According to a link provided by Dorsey, “it means to see things as they really are,” a “process of self-purification by self-observation. It is an ancient technique from India, which was originally taught by the Buddha.” Because of course it is.


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