The suspension on Sunday of @Bitcoin, one of the oldest and most popular Twitter accounts, has raised a raft of questions. Suspensions of high profile Twitter accounts are rare and are usually accompanied by some sort of official explanation, with doxxing or harassment usually cited. With no official word on why @Bitcoin was suspended and then reassigned, speculation has abounded. But in the last few hours, signs have emerged that the account has been reactivated and returned to its original owner.
Also read: Who Controls the @Bitcoin Twitter Account?
Questions Mount in the Wake of @Bitcoin’s Suspension
In cyberspace, the early adopters claim the rewards. Whoever registered the @Bitcoin Twitter account on August 17 2011 got themselves a prime piece of real estate. As bitcoin grew over the years, so did the account’s followers, reaching 700,000 by late 2017. By that stage, the account had largely fallen dormant, but it sprang back into life in January of 2018 and this time its tune had changed. Rather than passively tweeting out price updates and the occasional news piece, it was now promulgating all things bitcoin cash, and occasionally speaking ill of bitcoin core. This didn’t go down well with bitcoin core supporters, some of whom sought to have the account banned.
On April 8, they finally got their wish when @Bitcoin disappeared without warning. In its place was a standard notice informing viewers that the account had been suspended. There are two types of Twitter suspension: a temporary ban (effectively a timeout for bad behavior) and a permaban, which there is no coming back from. Major accounts to have fallen prey to the latter option include right-wing provocateurs Milo Yiannopoulos and Tommy Robinson, Brits whose views on Muslim immigration and Islamic terrorism may have been pivotal in sealing their downfall. It is hard to imagine what the operator of @Bitcoin could have done to earn a similar fate.
What Did @Bitcoin Do Wrong?
Twitter’s rules forbid offensive behavior of various kinds including “targeted harassment of someone or [inciting] other people to do so”. In addition, “You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.” There is nothing in Twitter’s rules about speaking ill of particular brands of bitcoin, however, or promoting one flavor of cryptocurrency over another. They do state that “You may not impersonate individuals, groups, or organizations in a manner that is intended to or does mislead, confuse, or deceive others,” but it would be a stretch to suggest that promoting bitcoin cash is an attempt to confuse and deceive.
Members of r/bitcoin have repeatedly filed tickets pleading with Twitter to ban the account, but their actions ought to have had no effect. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t make it illegal. There is an alternative theory for what could have caused @Bitcoin’s permaban. Twitter’s rules state that “You may not buy or sell Twitter usernames”. It was speculated that this may have happened after @Bitcoin showed its allegiance to BCH, but there was no evidence to support this, and it is perfectly conceivable that the account’s original owner may simply have gravitated towards bitcoin cash. Moreover, if that had been the cause, it seems strange that it should take three months for Twitter to issue a suspension.
There is another theory going around, and it’s a proper conspiracy theory no less. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey is known to have invested in Lightning Network, a bitcoin core scaling solution seen as competing with bitcoin cash for low-cost transactions. Could this have influenced Twitter’s decision to silence @Bitcoin?
What Now for @Bitcoin?
One of the strangest things about the suspension of @Bitcoin is what happened to the account in the hours afterwards. Normally, the account owner is given the chance to appeal the suspension, during which time the username is retained. Instead, the username was immediately returned to the open market. Thereafter it appears to have changed hands twice, first popping up as a Turkish account and then as a Russian one, whose owner joined Twitter in 2013, and had the fortune of switching to the @Bitcoin name when it became available. With the new owner’s account protected, so that only approved followers can view their tweets, there is no means of gauging their intentions.
For around 24 hours, “Andrei from Moscow Russia” has been serendipitously sitting on Twitter’s most desirable bitcoin handle. But in another surprise move, it looks like the @Bitcoin account has now been returned to its original owner and is in the process of being fully reactivated. If this proves to be the case, it will come as a relief to the rightful owner, who has cared for the account for the past seven years. Its 700,000 followers have been reduced to just a few thousand, though usually these are fully restored within hours of a reactivation. Judging by the account’s first tweet, @Bitcoin is as unclear as the rest of crypto Twitter as to what happened and why.
Why do you think @Bitcoin was suspended by Twitter? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and Twitter.
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