On Friday, a lone gunman walked into a synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 congregants, deep in prayer. An avowed antisemite, the killer had previously posted anti-Jewish screeds on the blockchain-curious platform Gab, a right-wing, censorship-resistant alternative to Twitter and Facebook, which ban hate speech for reasons that are now viscerally obvious.
Gab, having hosted the mass-murderer’s hate-filled scribblings, is now irrevocably tarred. In an official statement, the platform complained that it had been “no-platformed by App Stores, multiple service providers, and several payment processors,” specifically PayPal, which has withdrawn inadvertent support for Gab’s dubious operation. Now, it’s shutting up shop until it finds a “new hosting provider.”
Are Gab’s erstwhile sponsors wielding their power unfairly? Asks Matt Blaze, a prominent cryptographer: "Totally happy to see racist platforms like Gab shrivel up and die, but uneasy about payment processors being the arbiters and instruments of their death.”
Yet if not “payment processors,” then who? Just as we have every right to exercise our judgment as individuals, and ignore platforms like Gab, why shouldn’t those individuals with power—say, those running PayPal—have the right to exercise their own judgment, too?
Platforms are businesses with explicit Terms of Service. They can, for the most part, boot anyone, for any reason. (“No shoes, no shirt, no service.“) If PayPal doesn’t want to support murderous rhetoric, it shouldn’t have to.
So PayPal’s withdrawal looks like censorship, but it’s quite the opposite. It’s just freedom of speech, Gab. Anyway, Gab can, and will, find another provider. Let’s hope it’s not a blockchain.
A new ERC20 token is being launched on the Ethereum network. And it’s pegged to the bitcoin.
Goldman Sachs-sponsored crypto custody company BitGo, along with decentralized exchanges Kyber Network and Republic Protocol, are behind the token, called WBTC. It will, they say, have “the stability of bitcoin” with “the flexibility of ethereum.”
Amazingly, that’s not a joke. Benjamin Chan, the CTO of BitGo, likened WBTC to the banknotes that first replaced gold, in that it’s a less cumbersome substitute. ERC20 tokens, the theory goes, can be easily incorporated into DApps and more streamlined visions of Web3. Bitcoin, famously, is trickier to integrate.
To hold the peg, BitGo will keep a reserve of Bitcoins in cold storage to match supply and demand. When bitcoin loses 400 percent of its value, however, investors might hope their WBTCs do a Tether and shed that peg entirely.
“Everything’s been stolen.”
MapleChange, a small Canadian crypto exchange, had, incredibly, all its 919 bitcoins stolen by hackers, and now is shutting down since it cannot refund anyone.
Almost all observers expressed extreme doubt. Joseph Young, a prominent crypto-analyst, said MapleChange had clearly absconded with the funds itself. The classic exit scam.
Binance’s Changpeng Zhao, meanwhile, admonished investors to avoid small-time, deregulated exchanges and trade on platforms like his own. Obviously.
So what’s the answer? Are the critics just self-promoting, or did MapleChange really just lose those funds and then instantly, with a barely believable explanation, shut down shop?
Eh, what’s the difference, really. Either hackers stole the bitcoins, or scammers stole them. The moral is the same either way: You wouldn’t store your bullion in a cardboard box on the street, sooo.... do at least a little bit of research before you leave your cherished assets with exchanges that sound like they're run from a dumpster in a Tim Hortons parking lot.