IOTA, a distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrency for the Internet of Things, is rarely out of the news, with the list of crimes to earn the opprobrium of its fans growing by the day. Journalists who fail to pen fawning hagiographies of David Sønstebø and his team are singled out for persecution by IOTA acolytes. But it’s not just reporters who are blacklisted: anyone who tweets a link to an IOTA story – or who even likes a tweet – is also deemed an enemy combatant.
IOTA’s Defenders Go on the Warpath
As someone famous once said, “The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape from it.” It’s an ethos that a subset of the IOTA community have taken to heart. Last week, the Financial Times’ Jemima Kelly wrote about IOTA’s obsession with controlling the narrative. While no organization welcomes unfavorable press coverage, IOTA has gone to extreme lengths to penalize anyone who doesn’t toe the party line. In her piece, Kelly explained:
IOTA talks a lot about FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt), a term adopted by the crypto community to refer to critical commentary. The acronym might also reasonably be applied to its own approach to dealing with critics.
She added: “IOTA’s ‘troll army’ – which is how its team of online disciples is often referred to as – have scared off some people enough for them not to want to speak out. Two people we asked to speak to for this story told us they didn’t want to because they were worried about the consequences of doing so. One was worried about being threatened with physical harm. Tim Swanson, founder of tech consultancy Post Oak Labs and a leading authority in the space, told us he undid a retweet of a story that was mildly critical of IOTA because he felt intimidated by…a senior person from the IOTA team”.
Liking a Tweet Is Now FUD
Jemima Kelly wasn’t kidding about sharing a tweet being grounds for referral to IOTA’s Politburo for Public Enlightenment, better known as Tangleblog. It is here that the most egregious thought crimes are called out. According to the blog’s author, for example, Zcash founder Zooko is guilty of spreading FUD by tweeting a link to Kelly’s FT article. As if that wasn’t heinous enough, Grayscale Investments had the temerity to like the tweet, which is apparently “breathtaking” and part of a “dirty agenda”.
The list of organizations that IOTA and its army has called to boycott is too long to list, but includes Bitcoin.com, Coindesk, and The Next Web, whose lead journalist Mix has earned particular ire, and to his credit made a point of regularly prodding the IOTA beehive with scant regard for the consequences. When journalists get out of line by reporting the news, or Twitter users overstep the mark by sharing tweets, IOTA’s enforcers follow a predictable pattern.
Anatomy of an IOTA Attack
The first strike usually occurs on Twitter. The writer of an article such as this one will be sent veiled threats, told that they “aren’t a journalist” and ought to know better than to “spread FUD and misinformation”. If the writer has committed any minor infraction in the past – tweeting support for a now defunct cryptocurrency; composed an embarrassing personal blog; been pictured in an ill-advised Christmas sweater – this will be dredged up and used as ammo. It’s a dirty war and anything is fair game.
Next, the comments section of the article will fill up with copy pasted complaints as IOTA’s troll army goes into overdrive. With a publication such as news.Bitcoin.com, it may be suggested that the company is motivated to “FUD IOTA” because it fears that bitcoin is threatened by IOTA’s superior DAG technology. Or perhaps the writer is salty because they didn’t buy IOTA when it was 20 cents. While some journalists and researchers refuse to be cowed, others drink the Kool Aid, undo their retweets, and refrain from all public discussion about IOTA in favor of a quiet life.
It was Joseph Goebbels, for the record, who said that quote at the outset. “The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape from it.” Inside IOTA’s Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, the education of the masses has only just begun.
Do you think a calm and reasonable debate will ensue in the comments section for this article? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and Twitter.
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