“So this is how free speech dies,” wrote Bitcoin Cash enthusiast Roger Ver on Twitter. “With thunderous applause.”
Roger Ver, a former Bitcoin ‘evangelist’ who was once known as the ‘Bitcoin Jesus’, was responding to Twitter’s decision to suspend the @Bitcoin account, an account that had been used for the promotion of Bitcoin Cash. The account was suspended on Sunday, April 8, reportedly because of a number of complaints by other Twitter users; some suspect that an ‘army’ of Bitcoin supporters were responsible for them.
— Roger Ver (@rogerkver) April 8, 2018
According to a CoinTelegraph report, some Reddit users have suspected that Ver has been the operator of the @Bitcoin account “due to an alleged coincidence with the Tweets that both Ver’s Twitter and @Bitcoin ‘liked.’” These users have pointed out that if Ver was somehow able to purchase control of the account, which has been posting what some have called pro-BCH “propaganda” for months, that the account was indeed in violation of Twitter’s rules.
Ver, however, clarified that he was never the owner of the @Bitcoin account, adding that it was operated 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.”
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.
— Roger Ver (@rogerkver) April 9, 2018
Who’s At Fault?
While many Bitcoin supporters were happy to see @Bitcoin go, other voices in the crypto community–including plenty of Bitcoin Cash supporters–agreed with Ver.
What was especially troubling to these BCH supporters is the presence of a possible conflict of interest. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made a $2.5 million contribution to Lightning Labs several weeks ago. Lightning Labs is the firm responsible for creating the Lightning Network, a second-layer solution to the Bitcoin network’s scalability problems. If the Lightning Network is successfully deployed, it could drive mass amounts of users away from BCH and onto BTC.
“Welcome to the new Silicon Valley,” wrote Reddit user BeijingBitcoins. “All these guys who thought they were being disruptive to the old ways of doing things have instead amplified the censorship, information control, and social manipulation to levels that would have Orwell turning in his grave.”
However, not everyone believes that the decision to suspend the @Bitcoin account was as ‘Orwellian’ as some are making it out to be. ‘Cypherpunk’ Jameson Lopp replied to Ver’s tweet, saying that “freedom of speech means that the government won’t throw you in a cage for saying something it doesn’t condone. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want on someone else’s property.”
A Bit of History: BTC v. BCH
The battle between Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash has been raging ever since the inception of BCH; the coin was born out of a ‘hard fork’ (a kind of software update) of the Bitcoin blockchain on August 1st of 2017, and was intended to replace the Bitcoin network altogether.
Why would anyone want to replace the Bitcoin network? A debate over long-standing scalability issues on Bitcoin has been raging for years. To this day, the Bitcoin blockchain is really only capable of processing an average of 3-4 transactions per second; for perspective, the Visa payment network is estimated to be capable of 56,000 transactions per second.
On one side of the debate are supporters of ‘hard forks’ like the one that created Bitcoin Cash. These software updates (and there have been many of them) result in the creation of new coins that seek to replace the Bitcoin network entirely. This is largely what has fueled the controversy surrounding Bitcoin Cash–Roger Ver has been touting Bitcoin Cash as the ‘real Bitcoin’.
Bitcoin Cash does indeed improve on the scaling issues found in the Bitcoin network. Its larger block size and lower mining difficulty allow more transactions to be processed per second. However, accusations of insider trading and pump-and-dump schemes have marred the BCH network’s reputation.
— Charlie Lee [LTC] (@SatoshiLite) April 8, 2018
Those on the other side of the scaling debate believe that the Bitcoin network should not be replaced but improved. Some of them believe that a ‘soft fork’ (a software update that does not involve the creation of a new coin) is the answer; others believe that second-layer solutions, including the Lightning Network, is the way to go.
Twitter’s Recent Actions Against Crytpo
While Dorsey’s alignment with Lightning Labs combined with other comments that suggest he is bullish on the future of Bitcoin has certainly raised a few eyebrows, the decision to cancel the account may not be so controversial when the current climate of Twitter is taken into account.
Recently, the social media giant made the decision to discontinue all cryptocurrency-related advertisements on the site, following in the footsteps of Facebook and Google.
Cryptocurrency-related scams have also run rampant on Twitter. However, some users have pointed out that Twitter’s decision to cancel the @Bitcoin account was an odd and inappropriate response to a much larger problem:
The @Bitcoin account has been suspended (again) by @TwitterSupport only because Core trolls constantly submit fake reports about it. @Jack why do you guys keep letting this happen? Instead of suspending all the fake scammer accounts you suspend the real ones. WTF. pic.twitter.com/Z6yWR0y81N
— David Shares (@DavidShares) April 8, 2018
While a conspiracy is certainly possible in this case, it’s also possible that the cancellation of the @Bitcoin account was nothing more than a clumsy response to a series of complaints that were probably made by Bitcoin ‘hodlers.’ It’s unclear when–and if–the @Bitcoin account will return.