some links for you

i read it all so you dont have to - 5/22/2020

Real quick: Lots of people have been asking me what to make of a former Coinbase exec becoming acting head of the OCC. Here’s a short post about it. Basically, no, the Comptroller of the Currency can’t decide to make bitcoin legal tender. But there’s some nuts and bolts regulation stuff they can help fix. 

Twitter rolled out a new feature. If you follow me you probably noticed that I hate it. It allows people to limit who can reply to their own tweets to everyone, only people tagged, or only their following/followers. 

The only people tagged one is fine. That would allow for civil interviews without the peanut gallery intervening. Here’s a great example of Udi Wertheimer interviewing Vitalik Buterin, in the type of conversation that would be a magnet for idiots derailing it. 

I also understand that this would allow people like journalists to control dumbass anti-vaxx and Qanon replies to them. And keeping weird reply guys out of people’s mentions is good too. I know I get some and can only imagine how bad it is for others. 


It seems like a bad thing that now someone can say something wrong and protect themselves from replies calling it out, while still reaping the retweets, likes, and visibility, for whatever inflammatory thing they said. 

Will Oremus at OneZero, nailed my concerns

And more worrying than the possibility that reply controls won’t work is the possibility that they’ll work too well for the wrong people.

Yes, you can reply through a quote tweet. But that’s not under the original, it has to be sought out. We all know that the quote tweet is terrible for conservation health, since you want your quote tweet to get likes and retweets too, so you err toward bad faith dunking. 

And, as Will says,

The value of a reply on Twitter is that it’s visible to everyone who sees the original tweet, making it an ideal venue for asking questions, adding context or related ideas, correcting false information, or mounting a critique. Quote-tweets collapse that context, putting the response to the tweet into the feeds of an entirely different audience. Replies were one of the few places where people from different filter bubbles could routinely mix it up with others who see the world very differently.

I also question the wisdom of turning the masses back into a silent audience for the networked *big accounts*. To me that seems to be the opposite of what makes Twitter great. 

That all being said, I think we will quickly adopt a norm where turning off replies for anything less benign than a good morning post will be seen as a cowardly act that will be pointed out in many quote tweets. 

Vice went to Lebanon, where people can only withdraw up to $100 of their own money at time. 

The people are pissed. Some banks have been set on fire in recent riots. 

Things have gotten so bad there that Lebanon is flexing the same internet censorship muscles it has used to block things like Grindr to censor apps that tell people the exchange rate for their currency. 

Coda reports

In September last year, a parallel market for the pound emerged for the first time since 1997, when it was pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of LL1,507.5. The official peg was established in order to curb hyperinflation following Lebanon’s 15 year civil war.

As the country’s situation has worsened, unofficial exchange rates have crashed to more than LL4,000 to the dollar. Lebanese authorities have cracked down on currency traders, blaming them for the collapse of the pound. Desperate to stem the bleeding, the government has now blocked dozens of apps that provide information on the currency’s true market value.

Apparently exchange rates are a tricky thing in countries with collapsing economies and governments desperate to hide the damage. 

Here’s a story about how headlines get out of control. 

A think tank publishes a report saying ISIS could use Bitcoin. We’ve known this for a while; anyone *could* use Bitcoin. They have experimented with it here and there. The report also mentions in several places that most authorities currently do not consider cryptocurrency to be a major tool for terrorists. 

The expert then thinks out loud in a news article

“I’m wondering if from 2017 to 2020 there has been $300m that we have not found and that’s why I’m thinking this might have been one of the ways it might have been used,”

All he said is it’s a possibility they might use bitcoin for some of it. That’s all. 

Here’s what we get:

Then Decrypt, a cryptocurrency publication, picks it up

Now the entire $300 million “war chest” is in bitcoin. 

Then we get the Sun, which I think is widely regarded as garbage:

Now we have not only a huge war chest, but it’s sitting and waiting to be used in a bloody comeback campaign. The expert did not say this. 

So why do I care? Because no one ever follows back to the source. I read the report. It contains no evidence that ISIS has ANY substantial amount of money in bitcoin. The quote that started all of this is just speculation because they have used it before. 

Update: blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis has published a thorough debunking of the original report.

Millions of people saw those headlines. So now it’s out there in the world that ISIS has $300 million in bitcoin. Sick.