First, it was Facebook that banned advertising for cryptocurrencies and ICOs, and now it’s Twitter that is cracking down on accounts they believe are associated with phishing scams.
The only formal comment on the issue by Twitter itself came from CEO Jack Dorsey. In reply to a question from a user, he stated simply: “We are on it.” However, some are accusing Twitter’s approach as being indiscriminate as Kraken – one of the world’s leading crypto-currency exchanges – also found its own account impacted by the crackdown.
Fraudsters have been using an array of techniques, many of which have not been particularly sophisticated, to trick crypto-investors into sending them cryptocurrency.
One strategy has been to clone the Twitter accounts of high profile crypto personalities such as Vitalik Buterin. Scam artists then reply to a tweet sent out by the real account, in the hope of giving the impression that their own comments are an extension of the original, and then request a small amount of Ethereum with a promise to return a larger amount at a later stage.
The result has been that Buterin himself felt the obligation to change his Twitter account name to “Vitalik ‘No I’m not giving away ETH’ Buterin.”
In other cases, the impostor tweets have sought to endorse fraudulent ICOs. Twitter’s strategy to identify the problematic accounts appears to be driven by algorithms and has unfortunately flagged and suspended several legitimate accounts already.
The Kraken exchange’s Twitter customer support account was among those that were originally suspended but has since been re-stated.
Neeraj Agrawal, a prominent crypto commentator, was one of the first to realise his tweets were being deleted. This led to speculation in the community that Twitter had decided to censor comments related to the crypto industry.
Whilst Twitter is an important tool of communication within the crypto community, what is perceived to be an indiscriminate approach to identifying illegitimate accounts has been the source of frustration for many. As one analyst suggested, “maybe it’s time for a decentralised Twitter anyway.”