Redditors Accuse Amex of Sponsoring Anti-Crypto Tweets, But Proof Inconclusive

Cointelegraph investigates Redditors’ allegations that American Express has sponsored crypto-skeptical content on Twitter.

Reddit users have alleged that American Express (Amex) has sponsored crypto-skeptical content on Twitter, according to a popular forum thread opened Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The tweet in question was allegedly circulated through Bloomberg’s Twitter network “TicToc” on Oct. 11, and was reposted as a screenshot to Redditor u/Alexsayzz’s thread titled “Anti-crypto propaganda… promoted by American Express,” which has had 4,100 upvotes and drawn 437 comments as of press time.

As the screenshot reproduced below indicates, the tweet appears to have the hallmarks of a promoted post, and is recorded as having 42,000 views at the time the screenshot was taken.

Alleged AMEx-sponsored tweet posted to Bloomberg’s “TicToc” Twitter feed. Source: Reddit thread, user: u/Alexsayzz

The allegedly sponsored tweet contains a multimedia article — referring to “estimates” from Bloomberg’s energy industry research team, Bloomberg NEF — that contends the crypto industry “is using more energy than all the world’s electric vehicles.”

The tweet plays into the notion that the high amounts of energy needed to power the mining of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) is the coin’s “achilles heel” — a long-standing, if frequently contested, argument.

Titled “Crypto’s Hidden Costs,” the piece covers the controversial energy-intensive Bitcoin (BTC) mining process. It frames two interviews with figures from the blockchain space, who give their opposing views as to the benefits of using clean energy to fuel crypto mining.

The tweet’s alleged promotion by a major card payments industry player such as Amex has been lambasted as “propaganda” by the thread’s contributors, who view Amex’s position as being in direct competition with the emerging cryptocurrency sector, and therefore as having an arguably vested interest in promoting crypto-skeptical content.

Cointelegraph’s investigation into the Reddit allegations did not lead to the allegedly Amex-sponsored content itself. A tweet containing the same multimedia article is still to be found on the TicToc feed here, dated Oct. 10, but without the “promoted by American Express” included.

However, an anonymous source at Twitter has confirmed in private correspondence with Cointelegraph that the tweet in question was indeed promoted for some period, although they could not identify the sponsor.

In order to confirm whether or not the tweet was indeed Amex-promoted content, Cointelegraph used a tool Twitter provides that enables users to retrieve tweets that have been promoted by a specific account. However, entering either TicToc or Amex fails to retrieve the relevant tweet.

As of press time, Amex has not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

While the alleged sponsor of the tweet cannot be confirmed via the platform itself by Cointelegraph’s methods by press time, it remains possible that the tweet in question may have been deleted, or that Twitter’s transparency tool for promoted content may be unreliable and fail to comprehensively retrieve all tweets.  

Another possibility is that the Redditor’s image was fabricated to create the false impression that Amex has been involved in the promotion of anti-crypto material, in an attempt to quash competition from the emerging sector.

In June, the temporary failure of Visa’s transaction service in Europe — a competitor for MasterCard — highlighted the 99.98 percent functionality of Bitcoin’s decentralized network since its inception on Jan. 3, 2009.

Cryptocurrencies and advertising have sparked controversy in the past, notably with tech giants’ bans on crypto-related advertising. Google, Facebook and Twitter have all in the past banned crypto ads, although Facebook has since reversed its ad ban for pre-approved crypto firms, while still maintaining a ban on Initial Coin Offering (ICO) advertisement; Google made a similar move several weeks ago.

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Unconfirmed: TRON to Partner with ‘China’s Google,’ Baidu

Crypto market news service Coinness claims that TRON is about to partner with China’s Internet giant Baidu, citing private correspondence with the former.

The team of cryptocurrency project TRON (TRX) has reportedly partnered with China‘s largest Internet search provider Baidu. Crypto market news service Coinness has claimed this in a tweet Thursday, Oct. 11, citing its private correspondence with TRON’s team.

Neither TRON nor Baidu have been able to confirm the partnership to Cointelegraph as of press time.

Without specifying the details of the partnership, Coinness has claimed that the deal between TRON and China’s Internet giant Baidu will be “officially” revealed by the cloud storage service Baidu Cloud “next week.”

While Coinness claims that TRON has exclusively confirmed the partnership in private correspondence with it, the crypto platform itself has not yet officially announced any details of the partnership or even the identity of its new business partner.

TRON’s CEO Justin Sun has recently hinted on Twitter at a secret partnership with an unnamed “industry giant” that is valued at “tens of billions of dollars.” In his Tweet, posted Friday, Oct. 12, Sun has similarly provided little information:

“Finally, First time to partner with tens of billions USD valuation industry giant. Guess the name.”

As mentioned on TRON’s website, the decentralized Internet company TRON Foundation was established in Singapore in July 2017, while TRON’s open source protocol was launched in December 2017. The company has dual headquarters in Beijing and San Francisco, and a team of over 100 employees working all over the globe, with some of them being formerly employed by China’s Internet giants such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu.

In late September, TRON released details about its partnership with a popular torrent client BitTorrent, following the earlier acquisition of the company. A collaboration between the two companies dubbed “Project Atlas” will reportedly enable the users of the BitTorrent client to receive rewards in TRON for seeding torrent files.

Earlier in August, Baidu has joined Tencent and Alibaba in enforcing new anti-crypto policies in line with China’s overall toughened stance on the industry. The firm has shut down at least two popular crypto-related forums, with a notice to their users stating that Baidu’s measures are compliant with the “relevant laws, regulations and policies.”

On Sept. 26, Baidu has released its Baidu Blockchain White Paper V1.0, aiming to create “the independent development of the ‘Super Chain’ network system.”

TRON is currently the eleventh largest cryptocurrency by market cap, according to CoinMarketCap data. On June 25, TRON celebrated its “Independence Day,” when it migrated off the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain to its own independent public blockchain.

At press time, TRON is trading at $0.023, up 2.79% on the day. The coin saw its all-time price high of $0.217 on Jan. 5, 2018, which was followed by a fall in value of almost 90% over the rest of the year – against the backdrop of an overall declining crypto market.

TRON one-year price chart

TRON one-year price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

 

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Bitfinex Requires Customer Tax Info which it ‘May Exchange’ with Gov’t, Tax Authorities

Bitfinex has required tax information from its users, which it “may then exchange” with the government and tax authorities of the customer’s country of residence.

Cryptocurrency trading platform Bitfinex has recently distributed a letter to certain users,  saying that they are required to disclose their tax information, which the exchange may share with the government, according to a statement from the exchange on Twitter May 17.

The exchange, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), noted that under BVI law it is obliged to report specific information to the BVI government. According to the letter, Bitfinex “may then exchange” the information with tax authorities in concordance with the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

With the deadline to submit the information set for May 24, customers, according to the notice, must complete self-certification forms depending on whether they’re individuals or entities, and whether they’re residents or citizens of the US:

“If you are a US person (i.e. a US resident, a US citizen, or an entity organized in the United States), or an entity with at least one 25%+ owner who is a US person, please complete the appropriate FATCA form. Otherwise complete the appropriate CRS form.”

The message was confirmed by the Bitfinex Twitter account after the exchange’s new policy was brought to light by cryptocurrency commentator Whalepool:

“We have not sent this message to all users. We have deliberately targeted users that we believe have an obligation to self-disclose. If a user has _not_ received a message from us, she need _not_ self-certify anything to us at this time.”

Bitfinex was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Hong Kong. At a market capitalization of $686 mln, it is the fourth-largest cryptocurrency exchange globally, trading 77 different digital assets.

Last month, Bitfinex fell under the “Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative”, an “inquiry into the policies and practices” of crypto trading platforms launched by then-New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. As part of the program, the exchange was sent a letter, asking them to provide information on operations, internal controls, and other key issues in order to protect cryptocurrency investors and users.

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Reaffirms Bullish Future on Bitcoin, Crypto as Global Payment

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey expressed enthusiasm and hope that cryptocurrencies will be adopted globally as a means of payment.

Twitter and Square Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey expressed optimism about cryptocurrency’s role in the future of payments, saying that “the internet deserves a native currency” and “it will have a native currency,” Bloomberg reports May 16.

At the Consensus conference on Wednesday, Dorsey shared crypto enthusiasts’ vision that virtual currencies are the future of a legitimate means of global payment. He said that he doesn’t know whether it will be Bitcoin (BTC), but “I hope it will be.” Dorsey said:

“This technology is a fundamental shift to our world and can have so many positive outcomes. We have to do the work to educate regulators and educate the SEC why this technology is important.”

Square, a developer of payment and financial services solutions, allowed merchants to accept BTC in 2014 and made BTC trading available for almost all users of its Cash App in February of this year.

Not everyone at Square shares Dorsey’s enthusiasm however. He said that “this was a pretty contentious move in the company,” adding that there are still debates and fights over the topic. According to Dorsey, some of the company’s board of directors are also resistant to the idea of cryptocurrency.

In the beginning of May, Square reported low profits from BTC trading in the first quarter, which only amounted to around $200,000. While BTC trading constituted a 5 percent overall revenue of $34.1 mln, the company spent $33.9 mln to purchase the tokens.

Dorsey’s recent speech reaffirms previous comments that Bitcoin will become the world’s “single currency” within a decade. He said:

“The world ultimately will have a single currency, the Internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be Bitcoin.”

Dorsey noted that, at the moment, Bitcoin is “slow and costly,” which makes it difficult to use as a medium of exchange. He added that “as more and more people have it, those things go away.”

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