A Dutch columnist has come under flak for urging readers to sell their bitcoins because they’re “dangerous”. In a widely shared op-ed, the writer asserts that “bitcrash” is dangerous because it has no financial institution to monitor it and is a menace to the economy. The article has sparked intense debate as to whether it is satire or merely the latest case of bitcoin scaremongering.
Blame it on Bitcoin
According to Poe’s law, it is impossible to tell, without the author’s intent clearly stated, whether a piece of work is a parody or a sincere expression of its creator’s views. This adage certainly applies to “Bitcrash, or why you should sell [bitcoin] now” by Sandra Phlippen, the chief economist at Holland’s AD.nl news site. In a venomous column, she takes aim at bitcoin for a host of perceived ills, including the usual canards about money laundering and tax avoidance. The economist also throws-in the latest attack vector which the anti-bitcoin brigade have stumbled upon – energy consumption, speaking of “heavily environmentally harmful computer power” (and not mentioning the fact that the banking industry consumes a lot more).
A slew of similar articles now surface on a weekly basis, likening bitcoin’s energy consumption to that of an entire country. Aside from these figures being overstated, exponents of bitcoin mining are missing the point. The value of having a fully decentralized currency that is independent of governmental meddling cannot be overstated. As news.Bitcoin.com recently noted, “Bitcoin…adds measurable value, providing verifiable truth in exchange for energy – a price worth paying for the millions who use the digital currency.”
Not Sure if Serious or Satire
Phlippen finishes her harangue by railing against ICOs, where investors purchase nothing but “hot air”. While there are valid criticisms that can be leveled against ICOs, and indeed against bitcoin as a whole, tirades from supposed economic experts do little to advance the debate. If Phlippen is trolling, it is softly enough to fool many of her readers, especially those who are unfamiliar with bitcoin and may be deterred from investigating it further.
Ill-informed media hit pieces are nothing new, and bitcoin enthusiasts have been gleefully picking them apart for years. Some publications get it, while others either struggle, or produce bitcoin coverage which varies greatly depending on the writer. On Sunday, for example, the Guardian asserted that it was possible for bitcoin miners to invest “huge amounts of energy and time for no return”. Apparently, mining calls for “computer power and code-cracking know-how”, which is only half correct.
Often there is a kernel of truth to these articles, but the facts are distorted so as to blame bitcoin. In the last 24 hours, the British media has ran several stories about drug dealers using bitcoin ATMs to launder cash. They warn:
Detectives say they have seen an explosion in the use of digital currency by criminals who are strolling into cafes, newsagents and corner shops to dump their ill-gotten gains in virtual currency ATMs.
Such reports overlook the fact that the actual crime – the purchase of illegal drugs – was conducted entirely in fiat currency. On a web awash with exaggerated news, fake news, and pseudo-satire, balanced bitcoin reporting is becoming as scarce as the coins themselves.
Do you think mainstream media columnists are guilty of misrepresenting bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and AD.nl.
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