Twitter Gets Tough on @Bitcoin (Again) 0 2374

@Bitcoin Ban

Social media platforms and search engines don’t seem to like digital currency very much. After Google announced the ad ban on any content related to cryptocurrency, ICOs, or exchanges, Twitter promptly followed suit. And its stance against cryptocurrency is turning positively aggressive, as now even the @Bitcoin account has been banned, as well.

While the reasons for banning advertisements may be in the best interests of Twitter users, it’s not clear as to the purpose behind the outright ban on the @Bitcoin handle.

What’s Behind The @Bitcoin Account Ban?

Speculation, speculation, speculation. Is Twitter in league with some mysterious entity driven on flooding the crypto markets with FUD? Is there something underhand happening that the wider public don’t know about? Twitter claims that the @Bitcoin Twitter account, is in “violation of the Twitter rules.” Which could be 101 different things, and this vague statement raises a lot of additional questions.

For an account to get suspended on this social media platform, it has to get a few complaints. And it needs to be reported by several people. Well, the @Bitcoin account has certainly had its fair share of adversaries over the last few months.

A lot of the people against the @Bitcoin handle seem to be Bitcoin fans themselves. The content shared lately by this account seemed to be favoring Bitcoin Cash over the classic Bitcoin. (For those of you who don’t know, there are many purists within the crypto space. They don’t like false claims or misinformation being spread).

Is This a Slippery Slope to Censorship?

Bitcoin is still not illegal in most countries, albeit, traded without the backing of any government so far. However, many countries, especially Japan and South Korea seem to be embracing the digital currency and cryptocurrencies in general, while others like Bolivia and China have banned it.

Twitter making such a drastic move starts to look a little like censorship, especially when Google will no longer display crypto advertisements either.

And while it’s very nice of Twitter to look out for its users’ best interests, its users are, for the most part, adults who can decide for themselves where to invest their money. It remains to be proven that the @Bitcoin account was actually spreading misinformation, as no evidence of this has been submitted, thus far. In fact, it may not have even violated Twitter’s terms of service, so it could be reinstated.

Twitter and Cryptocurrency in General

What has a lot of people wondering is just how aggressive Twitter plans to get on cryptocurrency in general. Because with the way they’re treating @Bitcoin, it is starting to feel an awful lot like using a search engine or social media platform in China or Russia. Preventing advertisements thought to be misleading is one thing. Preventing open discussion about a topic that is not even illegal on social media is another.

And will it lead to regular accounts being shut down should they dare to speculate on the state of digital money? Thanks to the reaction from the crypto community and public at large over this maneuver, it’s likely that Twitter will release some kind of statement at the very least. This is not the first time the @Bitcoin account was suspended from Twitter. And the last time, the account was reinstated pretty fast. Whether that will be the case this time around is not clear.

But as is the case in this lawless community, new developments happen daily to drive the discord and fractionism among parties. We’ve already seen a breakaway from those who prefer Bitcoin Cash over traditional Bitcoin. We’ve seen a split between Ethereum and Ethereum Classic. And now we’ll certainly hear of other debates as emotions escalate and contribute to the already bearish crypto markets.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.

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Kenya Looks to Blockchain for Affordable Housing Project 1 142

The “Silicon Savannah” is moving deeper in direction of tech. The Kenyan government has announced a plan to manage the property allocation and funding of 500,000 affordable housing units with blockchain technology.

The units, which the government aims to build by 2022, will be set aside for households with an annual income below 100,000 Kenyan Shillings, about $990 USD. The World Bank estimates Kenya’s gross national income per capita at $1,290, according to Business Daily.

Blockchain will help ensure that the affordable housing is in fact going to those who fall below the average income bracket. Land title fraud has caused problems for Kenyans, as land grabbers target homes and even schools for illegal sales and development. Blockchain’s ability to store verifiable proof of title could help safeguard against fraudsters.

“Kenya will use blockchain technology to ensure the rightful owners live in government funded housing projects,” said Principal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Charles Hinga, speaking with the World Bank on Monday.

Hinga said the plan will be financed by the National Housing Fund, which will raise over $59.5 million per month to get the project underway. But Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development James Macharia said it will take $31.7 billion to build a million homes, each of which will cost between $3,000 and $30,000. Macharia called for support from private sector financing.

Under the financing plan, working Kenyans will contribute 1.5 percent of their salary, which will be matched by their employers. “On affordable housing one should not spend more than 30% of their disposable income for housing,” Hinga tweeted yesterday. “Anything above 30% is not affordable.”

A Trustless Relationship Between People and Government

The initiative represents a considerable push to solve housing and title problems for the nation’s lower income families. But how will the government decide to whom the housing units will go? With so much talk about financing underway, people are already calling on the government to outline a plan for how they’ll distribute the affordable housing units.

The government will need to deliver the housing projects in a time when, Hinga acknowledges, the public is skeptical. Earlier this year $78 million went missing in a corruption scandal involving the National Youth Services. Where there is little trust between the people and their government, Kenya hopes to establish transparency through the blockchain’s distributed ledger system.

Kenya’s Move Toward Tech

In March, Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology appointed a blockchain taskforce to explore the ways the nation could use blockchain technology in the public and private sectors. They called it the Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence taskforce, and by September its chairman, Bitange Ndemo, was calling on the government to tokenize the economy.

Ndemo also proposed government implementation of blockchain to certify the authenticity of retail goods, so consumers can be sure of where their food is coming from, for example.

Governor of Kenya’s central bank Patrick Njoroge has also voiced support for the use of blockchain technology to strengthen service delivery, although he’s opposed the use of tokens and digital currencies.

But the affordable housing initiative could be the Kenyan government’s first real world implementation of the blockchain.

There’s an Inflatable ‘Bitcoin Rat’ Staring Down the Fed 1 126

Someone has put a giant inflatable rat outside the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

It’s covered in Bitcoin code, printed in rainbow colors, and is apparently a piece of installation art aimed at subverting the federal institution that controls the US dollar. Or is it pale, puffed-up pariah a commentary on Bitcoin bros themselves? Or does it have something to do with Warren Buffett, who earlier this year called Bitcoin “rat poison squared”? According to CoinDesk, who first reported on the inflatable rat, the meaning is intentionally ambiguous.

The artist behind the puzzling prank is Nelson Saiers. He describes his own work as “mystifying” and “singularly original”, notwithstanding the long history of rats being inflated as protests or used as economic and political icons in art and entertainment around the world.

“It’s art, so I hope they’re entertained by it,” he said, apparently implying that art is entertainment. “It’s informative, I hope people will learn [and] I’m hoping it’ll at least help people understand bitcoin better and be kind of faithful to what Satoshi would have wanted,” he added, citing the mysterious pseudonym of Bitcoin’s founder with a touch of reverence.

A $50 Million Artist

Saiers, a phD in theoretical mathematics, was a hedge fund manager who did that thing where you give up all the money to chase your dream of being an artist.

His financial experience includes a stint as managing director at Deutsche Bank’s prop trading desk, before becoming CIO of Saiers Capital, the hedge fund that bears his name. His creative career gives credence to the theory that working as an artist is more and more a privilege of the very wealthy.

CNBC estimated Saiers’s wealth to be around $50 million at the time of he departed from the financial industry to pick up his paintbrushes.

The Rat Joins a Tradition of Sculpture-as-Commentary in FiDi

The Bitcoin rat, which stands on Maiden Lane, isn’t the first pop up sculpture to grace Manhattan’s financial district. Last year, Kristen Visbal’s 50 inch bronze ‘Fearless Girl’ statue made waves by staring down the famous ‘Charging Bull’, to the outrage of ‘Charging Bull’ sculptor Arturo Di Modica. The 3.5 ton ‘Charging Bull’ itself was left on Wall Street in the middle of the night when Di Modica originally created it, obstructing traffic and drawing the curiosity of passers by.

When Saiers placed the Bitcoin rat, he initially set it up on private property and was promptly ushered off by security guards, who he says were good natured about the situation. He expects the sculpture to be more temporary than the aforementioned Wall Street bronzes, and will probably only be around for a few days.

A Critique of the 2008 Bailouts

The placement of the rat on Maiden Lane seems to be no accident, but rather a reference to the Maiden Lane Transactions, more commonly known as that time when the Fed bailed out the big banks after they all caused the 2008 market crash. The Bitcoin crowd’s antipathy towards the Fed and the big banks is palpable in Sairs’s rat sculpture, and while a more specific meaning eludes, perhaps the success of the piece depends upon its ability to start conversations about the state of finance.

We’ll leave it to the viewers to decide who’s the rat—the Federal Reserve, or Bitcoin itself—and what that means for the future of currencies.

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