On Wednesday evening, something weird happened on the weirdest of social media platforms.
Verified Twitter accounts — from Joe Biden to Bill Gates to Barack Obama to Elon Musk — began posting scammy bitcoin tweets in unison. Here’s one example:
Despite the enormous audience gained from these tweets, the ruse has so far managed to only bring in $100,000, according to the aptly named Blockchain.com.
Twitter, after in effect locking every blue checkmark account, later claimed on its support account that “detected what we believe to be a co-ordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools”. Vice later ran with the convenient story that a Twitter employee was responsible for the sort of scam which you might expect your uncle to fall for on Facebook.
During these sort of events it’s tempting to speculate on what actually happened, and why. Was this just an unsophisticated bitcoin bro, who, two years ago, would have a launched an initial coin offering to purloin $100k off investors? Or was it something a touch more sophisticated? FT Alphaville notes that the accounts targeted are generally left-leaning, and such a clue might tempt those to think there was some geopolitical motivation to this. If not, then we’re sure the content of the direct messages would be of interest to someone looking to squeeze a few more bitcoins out of a famous individual.
FT Alphaville, for the moment, demurs to Occam’s Razor but we’re sure there’s more to come on this story.
There’s also another point to be made, if Twitter’s internal controls are so poor what does that say about the environment fostered by its fly-by-night chief executive Jack Dorsey? As a reminder, he also runs a payments company.
It’s probably been a difficult day for Jack, so we’ll lay off him a bit. But hey, maybe he can find some comfort in the fact there’s now a solid use case for his favourite cryptocurrency: