Video Showing Media Bias Around Bitcoin And Black Audiences Prompts Questions About Culture

A video suggesting that a local news producer omitted Bitcoin stories for black audiences raised questions about biases and Bitcoin culture.

A Twitter video presented by former FOX 26 reporter Ivory Hecker, who is working to expose what she sees as network corruption and bias, seems to show an assistant news director at the station explaining the intentional withholding of news coverage about Bitcoin from black audiences.

“I have passed on Bitcoin stories,” a woman identified in the video as Lee Meier, assistant news director at FOX 26, said.

“African-American audience at five, it’s probably not gonna play. That’s a choice I’m making, an editorial choice,” Meier continued, after a cut in the video.

Despite the statement including little context and appearing cut together and recorded as a video call on a smartphone, it has generated a meaningful conversation about media bias and a general failure to recognize that black people are and should be interested in Bitcoin.

This conversation was perpetuated on Twitter by Isaiah Jackson, a founder of Black Bitcoin Billionaire (BBB), an advocacy group focused on education and onboarding for Bitcoin in the black community.

“RT this post if you are Black and HODL #Bitcoin, these people don’t think we are out here,” Jackson wrote as he shared the clip.

“This rhetoric follows a long tradition of figures outside of our community who take the liberty to dictate what we should or should not be exposed to without any input from ourselves,” Ian Gaines, operations director at BBB, told Bitcoin Magazine. “Every time a voice outside of our culture tries to speak for us without first consulting, they have always been on the wrong side of history. This is just another drop in the proverbial ocean of blind arrogance.”

The apparent media bias revealed in the video demonstrated a larger assumption about Bitcoin that Black Bitcoin Billionaire is attempting to dissolve — that Bitcoin culture is only relevant or interesting to white males.

“No one group has a claim to Bitcoin culture, the system is decentralized and accessible to all, and in order for the protocol to truly succeed on a global scale, it must incorporate a global perspective,” Gaines added. “We combat by owning our narrative. This example with the editor is why we created BBB in the first place.”


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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Discusses Censorship And How Bitcoin Can Bank The Unbanked

During an on-stage discussion at the Bitcoin 2021 event, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey discussed Bitcoin, censorship and banking the unbanked.

Speaking at the Bitcoin 2021 conference, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey highlighted the properties that make Bitcoin a tool that can provide financial sovereignty and the ability to store value to the world’s unbanked and under-banked. He also described his personal belief in and passion for building the technology.

“For me, bitcoin changes absolutely everything,” Dorsey said. “What I’m drawn to the most about it is the ethos, what it represents… Whatever I can do, whatever my companies can do to make [Bitcoin] accessible to everyone, that is what I will do for the rest of my life.”

Dorsey is also the CEO of financial services company Square, which operates the payments app and retail bitcoin portal Cash App, as well as Bitcoin development group Square Crypto. 

He was joined during the discussion by Alex Gladstein the chief strategy officer of Human Rights Foundation and another advocate for the sovereign potential of Bitcoin. Gladstein asked how Bitcoin can become a network that enables the masses of unbanked and underbanked people around the world to achieve more financial sovereignty.

“[Bitcoin] is going to be used by more and more people and my belief in bitcoin is that it is an amazing asset… but you need to be able to transact with it everyday,” Dorsey said, highlighting the Lightning Network as a solution that could make this possible. “So, the only reason Square got into Bitcoin is to that end.”

Attendees interrupted the discussion at one point, seemingly accusing Dorsey of undue censorship of free speech through Twitter. Gladstein that asked Dorsey about how the open-source model of Bitcoin might inspire a social media platform that is censorship free or censorship resistant.

“By creating a new [social media] platform … inspired entirely by Bitcoin, we want to do the same thing for Twitter,” Dorsey said, as the heckling continued. “I know you don’t believe me, I know you’re calling me ‘liar.’ I’m going to prove it to you.”

Dorsey also emphasized the importance of encouraging bitcoin investors to hold their own private keys and remain bitcoin-only.

“As a custodial exchange we need to push more companies like us to make sure companies have non-custodial solutions,” he said. “There is nothing else that compares to [bitcoin]. We have no interest in anything else.”


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Bitcoin Mining Company Marathon Will Stop Censoring Transactions, Start Signaling For Taproot

Bitcoin mining firm Marathon has announced its pool will stop mining only OFAC-compliant blocks and start signaling for Taproot activation.

Mara Pool, the bitcoin mining pool operated by digital asset technology company Marathon Digital Holdings, will update its miners to the latest Bitcoin Core 0.21.1 software to signal for Taproot activation, and stop censoring transactions, according to a press release.

“Marathon is committed to the core tenets of the Bitcoin community, including decentralization, inclusion, and no censorship,” said Marathon’s CEO Fred Thiel. “Over the coming week, we will be updating all our miners to the full standard Bitcoin core 0.21.1 node, including support for Taproot. By adopting the full standard Bitcoin core node, we will be validating transactions on the blockchain in the exact same way as all other miners who use the standard node.”

The announcement comes in great contrast to Marathon’s actions in the past few months. In late March, the company announced its bitcoin mining pool would filter transactions to mine blocks compliant with U.S. regulations, including anti-money laundering (AML) and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) standards, effectively censoring transactions. And earlier this month, the company successfully mined its first “compliant” block.

Thiel later added that “[Marathon] looks forward to continue being a collaborative and supportive member of the Bitcoin community and to realizing the vision of Bitcoin as the first decentralized, peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users rather than a central authority or middlemen,” per the release.

Taproot is a soft fork to the Bitcoin network that could improve Bitcoin’s privacy and scripting capabilities. For example, the upgrade could make smart contracts more efficient and private by only revealing the relevant parts of the contract when spending. Additionally, it could improve Lightning Network privacy by making Lightning channels look like regular bitcoin transactions.

Taproot’s current deployment method is called Speedy Trial, a variation of BIP9 versionbits described in BIP341. The process is characterized by miners and mining pools helping coordinate the deployment of the soft fork by signaling its support in their mined blocks. If 90% of blocks in a signaling epoch of 2,016 blocks between May and August show support for Taproot, the soft fork gets locked in as a Bitcoin protocol upgrade for November.

According to data from, 240 blocks have been mined in the current signaling epoch at the time of writing –– an only six have not signaled for Taproot activation. Therefore, over 97% of the present epoch’s mined blocks have signaled support for the upgrade.

But not all of Mara Pool’s mined blocks have signaled for Taproot activation –– amounting to half of the total of non-signaling blocks in this epoch. However, by upgrading its miners, Mara Pool might start signaling for Taproot as early as next week, according to the release, leaving Bitcoiners very optimistic about the soft fork’s activation.

If Mara Pool indeed stops censoring transactions and Taproot gets locked in as a Bitcoin protocol upgrade for November, the year 2021 would be etched in Bitcoin’s history as a vital year for the network, bringing improvements in privacy, fungibility and scripting capabilities while laying the foundation for further improvements down the road.


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What’s holding crypto social networks back from greatness?


Another rainy Sunday night. You’re browsing on Facebook and Twitter — inundated with photos of your friend’s new baby, jokes that have been copied from poor hard-working comedians, and memes that certainly were funny… when you first saw them four years ago.

Undeterred, you keep scrolling. There’s a tweet that proclaims a hot new cryptocurrency is going to surge to $1 million, and another claiming the self-same altcoin is destined to plunge to zero. You then see links about the latest developments in the DeFi and NFTs space, and your eyes light up. Finally — content you’re interested in!

Existing social networks may allow you to engage in heated discussions about the latest trends in the world of crypto, but this isn’t the same as being able to experience them in a tangible way. Ever-growing concerns about censorship and privacy could soon pave the way for the next generation of platforms where we can join a like-minded, passionate community of individuals — just like MySpace and Bebo made way for Facebook and Instagram. And as the dawn of Web 3.0 beckons, there’s a strong chance that the next big social network will embrace decentralization, tokenization, blockchain and digital identities.

We’ve already seen early attempts that have been designed to blend cryptocurrencies and social media together. Reddit dipped its toe in the water when it tokenized Community Points across two popular subreddits — and some industrious users claim they have managed to sell those tokens to pay off rent. Back in January, the platform announced that it was deepening its ties with the Ethereum Foundation too, with a view of “bringing the value and independence of blockchain technology to millions of redditors.”

Despite Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey being an avid fan of Bitcoin, there seems to be little chance that the micro-blogging site will introduce crypto-friendly features anytime soon. And even though Facebook caused a big splash when it announced plans to launch a stablecoin called Libra, its project has been bogged down by a backlash from central banks and regulators. A swift rebrand to Diem doesn’t appear to have helped matters, and now, there are doubts as to whether this project will ever launch at all.

You could argue that the best way to deliver a truly crypto-powered social network is to build one from the ground up, instead of leaving it to the incumbents. Passionate developers who live and breathe this space may have a better chance of delivering a cutting-edge platform that crypto enthusiasts and newcomers want to use — a place where people don’t just read about DeFi and NFTs but experience them through sophisticated features.

But here’s the question: Are the crypto-powered social networks that currently exist suffering from a bout of misdirection? Do these platforms focus too much on censorship resistance, freedom of speech and privacy as their main selling points — attributes that should come as standard with any blockchain project? What are the drawbacks that stop people from signing up to one of these niche platforms, and how can new users be attracted?

Creatures of habit

To understand how a crypto social network can carve out an all-important niche for itself, it’s important to look at the platforms that dominate the space — and the value they bring. Facebook is popular because it allows people to connect with long-lost friends. Twitter is valued for its immediacy, and succinct 280-character posts people can snack on. Instagram is the home of beautiful photography, while TikTok’s domain is delivering short, viral videos that young users love to watch.

At present, crypto users aren’t tempted to use a platform that’s been built specifically for them. Crypto Twitter delivers the insights into digital assets that people crave, and we’ve already seen how TikTok ended up serving as an unlikely tool for promoting Dogecoin. What’s the point in moving to a new space with a smaller number of users if the content is going to be exactly the same?

Sure, many of us have tried giving crypto social networks a go, only to be put off by a lousy user interface and weak gamification. First impressions are so important — and in many cases, users quickly discover that there’s very little reason for them to visit a second time. Specially created social media tokens can also serve as a big draw for attracting visitors. But time and again, we’ve seen the value of these altcoins plunge as soon as they hit the market because they lack utility, alienating the self-same community that the token was meant to serve.

For a crypto social network to achieve widespread use and success, it needs to have something it specializes in — just like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram. And here’s the thing, this fast-moving industry has several things that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet, including DeFi and NFTs. Now, one project is building a platform that adds real economic value by adopting these innovations at the center of its product.

Time for Torum

Torum uses gamification and a modern user interface to allow its community to gain access to DeFi services and nonfungible tokens in a single ecosystem. Developers say this is a clear example of concrete value that stands in stark contrast to many rival projects. As you might expect, its name is a portmanteau of “tokenization” and “forum.”

It is building a DeFi product and NFT marketplace that is infused with social elements. An automated market maker platform is being built that gives liquidity providers a bigger stake based on how active they are on the site. Meanwhile, the NFT marketplace allows crypto artists to list their tokens and share them with a vibrant community — and later this year, programmable NFTs will allow Torum members to change their appearance using a suite of customization options that unlock depending on how frequently they visit the platform.

A badge system, activeness points and a gifting mechanism delivers a smooth, friendly, gamified social media experience that isn’t seen elsewhere. Likes and retweets may be rewarding, but Torum aims to take this to the very next level.

The social media project, which also claims to be the first to be built on Binance Smart Chain, also says that it has over 10 different use cases for its native XTM token — such as boosting content, purchasing gifts, and participating in virtual mining games.

So far, Torum has relied extensively on word-of-mouth marketing, and it has become one of the first few social media projects to receive venture capital funding on the back of impressive metrics. More than 15 private investors participated in the $1.5 million round — including AU21 Capital, Consensus Lab and Redline Capital.

Now comfortably in the top 50,000 websites ranked by Alexa, Torum’s on a mission to succeed where other crypto social networks have failed — and become the ultimate destination for Bitcoin bulls, Ether enthusiasts and avid altcoiners.


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Controversial Games Put Binance Smart Chain to the Test

Key Takeaways

  • Binance Smart Chain is supposedly decentralized, despite having just 21 validators.
  • The game developers likely believe that China can influence BSC policymaking due to Changpeng Zhao’s Chinese citizenship.
  • The game has stirred up controversy and accusations of anti-Chinese racism within the crypto community.

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A series of projects on the Binance Smart Chain inspired by violent incidents in Chinese and American history are testing the platform’s decentralization limits.

Tiananmen Square Immortalized on Binance Smart Chain

An anonymous developer has released a game called “Tanks of Tiananmen” on Binance Smart Chain (BSC) to test decentralization on the platform and the Chinese authorities.

The game is based on a 1989 pro-democratic protest when a man stood in front of Chinese military tanks in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The act advocated reform, protested corruption, and demanded freedom of the press in China. 

During the event, over one million protestors gathered in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Many died in a massacre when the state eventually sent in tanks and armed soldiers. While officials state that 300 were killed, recent figures suggest that as many as 10,000 people died in the protest, run over by tanks and shot by advancing infantry. 

The image of the unidentified “Tank Man” standing in front of a line of tanks became iconic throughout the world.

But due to state controls in China, the image is less widely known and more controversial. The events of Tiananmen Square are reportedly censored within Chinaas is free access to the famous image.

BSC Games Based on Slavery, Violence

Anyone can play the Tanks of Tiananmen game for free. There are 1 million TANK tokens available for free mining using the contract’s mint function.

Nexo Earn

Players take on the Chinese state’s role attempting to quell the protests, with each TANK token representing ammunition to be fired at civilians. During the game, players can choose sides—join the military or pro-democracy movement—using these tokens.

A character in the game called CZ, a reference to Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, is shown on the protesters’ side.

Another game was launched on BSC allowing users to trade “slaves,” likely to attempt to stir up outrage and determine whether BSC is centralized enough to censor its own projects. Twitter has suspended the project team’s account.

Both games were met with immediate outrage due to their insensitive content. What’s more, the Tanks for Tiananmen game may even put real lives in danger. A rise in the game’s popularity could cause the Chinese government to pressure Binance into censoring the multiplayer game. 

Despite the gravity of the move, others suggest that these games test Binance’s centralization.

“By definition, this experiment is supposed to be culturally insensitive. It wouldn’t work any other way,” said Bankless founder David Hoffman.

As CZ pointed out, this is not the first attack of its kind. Bitcoin’s blockchain was used to store links to images of illegal pornography in 2018, perhaps in an attempt to make running a Bitcoin node illegal.

Fears of Centralization

Binance Smart Chain has quickly grown as an alternative for retail users restricted by the high fees on Ethereum. The blockchain’s native token has risen over 900% year-to-date and even grabbed the third spot in market capitalization at one point.

But fewer nodes on the Binance Chain have raised concerns around centralization on the blockchain. BSC only has 21 validators compared to more than 11,000 nodes on Ethereum. 

The function of a node is to verify every transaction on the blockchain. Nodes have the power to update to new consensus rules and force the chain to follow them. The larger the number of nodes, the greater is the degree of decentralization because the majority will reject bad actors.

Due to BSC’s design, users and developers are reminded of EOS, which collapsed due to the unsustainably small number of validators. 

SIMETRI 10x potential

Binance’s CEO persistently denies any control over the chain.

“A few hater kids think they can bring down a blockchain with some scams/sensitive posts. We honestly can’t control it. But they are just promoting #BSC to their followers.”

Culprits Are Still Unknown

Zhao has said that disgruntled members of the Bitcoin or Ethereum communities created the games to attack BSC. 

Another idea is that there is a war between Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX exchange and CZ. 

Crypto Briefing investigated the matter and noted that the creator of Tanks of Tiananmen received BNB from three addresses before creating the contract, including one address with links to DEGO Finance.

However, the identity of the project team remains unknown at this time.

It’s possible that BSC could censor the game by restricting the blockchain explorers. This move would suspend the listing of these contracts much like does with projects that don’t adhere to its censorship rules.

Regardless of whether these games are taken down, the attacks are an ongoing reminder of projects’ constant challenges using blockchain technology.

Conflicts between immutability and ethics are always just around the corner.

Disclosure: The author held BTC at the time of press. 

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Dan Larimer Reveals New Project to Combat “Tyranny” of Twitter

Key Takeaways

  • Larimer has long had an interest in social media platforms, although previous attempts like Voice were highly centralized.
  • He encouraged people to abandon Twitter after Donald Trump was banned for inciting a violent riot in the U.S. capitol.
  • The Clarion project was announced the day after far-right platform Gab was hacked.

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After quitting his role as EOS CTO in January, Dan Larimer has announced a new censorship-resistance social media project called Clarion.

Larimer Takes on “Big Tech”

Larimer made a GitHub post explaining the concept of his new project. He described a censorship-resistant “friend to friend” network that mirrors the “performance and reliability of a centralized service with the freedom and independence of a decentralized service.”

Larimer claimed that his project would free friends and family from the so-called “tyranny of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, and Google.”

The project drew inspiration from RetroShare, Hive (formerly Steemit), and Voice, with Larimer saying RetroShare is much closer to the desired level of centralization. Clarion will facilitate email, video chats, and other forms of message propagation.

Larimer wrapped up his announcement by claiming “Big Tech” has locked its users into its services and no longer produces tools to empower people.

Far-Right Politics on the Blockchain

In January, Larimer indicated that his interest in censorship-resistant technology was due in part to Twitter banning former U.S. President Donald Trump from Twitter.

Trump was banned on January 08 for inciting violence at the U.S. capitol, with Larimer stating that it was “time to abandon Twitter” the next day.

Larimer also appeared to encourage users to download the Parler social media app from Apple before it was removed. Parler gained notoriety as a hub for white supremacists and far-right extremists marketed as a censorship-resistant social media platform.

Parler was banned from Amazon and other platforms, as Larimer seems to reference in his cryptic GitHub post.

However, Parler suffered a major security breach when hacktivist @donk_enby scraped the platform and extracted publicly available metadata revealing extensive information on Parler users, including identities and metadata.

The information could potentially identify many of the people who were involved in the storming of the U.S. capital.

Far-right social media platform Gab was also breached recently, including Donald Trump’s personal account. With Gab and Parler both out of action, the far-right social media presence is limited to more centralized platforms. Larimer announced his project the day after the Gab hack was made public.

Disclosure: The author held Bitcoin at the time of writing.

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Censorship, Cancel Culture, and Common Sense

It’s nearly impossible to engage in any meaningful online discussion these days without bumping up against so-called “cancel culture.” There is a perception, which may or may not be real, that people, brands, and institutions that don’t live up to the internet’s prevailing social mores can be “canceled” or publicly shamed into silence.

Censorship, Cancel Culture, and Common Sense

As with most hot-button cultural issues, the topic of cancel culture is far more complicated than our Twitter-obsessed society is willing to admit.

Before diving into my thoughts on the subject, we must first understand how we arrived at this unique moment in history.

For my American friends, the concept of freedom of speech is as integral to their being as any idea can be. For better or worse, the American definition has shaped much of the internet’s views on how we communicate. Whether this is due to the distributed nature of our online interactions or the fact that the major tech platforms were developed in the U.S. is neither here nor there.

The truth of the matter is that platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and countless others have given almost everyone a megaphone and imbued them with the belief that freedom of speech extends to their behaviors.

Of course, when the American Founders developed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they couldn’t imagine a world in which a single message, regardless of veracity, could be transmitted to billions of people instantaneously.

So we find ourselves in an interesting position. We have billions of people, connected despite different cultures and geographies, all grappling with the ability to share anything far and wide. Meanwhile, we have public figures and businesses operating on a global stage, subject to the whims of the crowd like never before. Finally, all of this is happening in an unregulated, chaotic free zone without central authority or even shared understanding.

There are multiple forces at play here. The first is the tech company itself, which can “de-platform” anyone who violates its terms of service. The second is the crowd itself, which exerts influence through what can only be described as a twenty-first century “mega boycott.”

As someone who has a foot in both the worlds of Western, liberal democracy and Chinese centralized leadership, I feel as though I have a unique perspective on the matter.

Tech companies like Twitter have, in my opinion, the right to regulate their platforms as they see fit. If they feel that former President Trump used their platform to sow the seeds of insurrection and violence, then they have the absolute right to kick him off for good.

Of course, this leads to accusations of censorship and circles back to cancel culture.

To those who complain of censorship, let’s keep things in perspective. In China, for example, censorship has a very different meaning. The worst-case scenario of being “canceled” in that part of the world entails a bit more than losing your Twitter account.

As with most things in life, everything comes down to common sense.

First, we must all conduct ourselves with dignity and honor and avoid pointless incendiary interactions.

Next, companies, public figures, and institutions must realize that there are consequences for their words and deeds. The Twitter mobs may come for them, calling for their heads, but ultimately, those individuals control how they choose to respond. If a company like Disney wants to fire an actor or actress for making controversial comments, that’s their decision. They’re merely making the most practical business decision.

Finally, we have to recognize that the tech platforms are independent organizations, and again they can choose how they want to respond to controversial figures. Yes, there is room for a double standard here, but as long as they operate in the context of a free and open society, the decision and power are theirs.

We must all work to encourage common sense and remain mindful of the environment in which we operate.

Image source: Shutterstock


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EU appoints major finserv firm to lead blockchain social media project

The executive body of the European Union has appointed a major financial services firm to lead a three-year initiative aimed at boosting the integrity of social media posts using blockchain technology.

Dubbed “TruBlo,” the project will oversee a wealth of blockchain development as part of the European Commission’s Next Generation Internet initiative. The French financial services firm, Worldline, has been appointed to lead TruBlo. Worldline was founded in 1970 and generated €2.3 billion ($2.8 billion) in revenue in 2019.

An estimated 450 proposals will be assessed in the coming years as part of the initiative’s goal of “developing trust and reputation models on blockchain,” as reported by Finextra. It is expected that 45 of the proposals will receive partial funding, while nine will be funded to completion.

TruBlo coordinator and R&D manager at Worldline Iberia, Toni Paradell, said developing trust models in the age of rapidly advancing technology was a fundamental issue:

“The nine projects that are implemented will be key to creating trust models that power the exchange of content generated by individuals from any device. This is fundamental if we are to make the technologies part of our lives and increase our ability to drive an agile, effective and secure digital transformation environment.”

Calls for social media reform haven’t just emanated from government entities. The growing influence of big tech companies has seen constant calls to migrate social media onto the blockchain, where no one individual or corporation can dictate its terms.