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Doxxing – The Ultimate Crypto Taboo?

Introduction

As I sit here with my morning coffee running through my daily routine of checking Delta, catching up with Twitter and answering DM’s; I’m greeted by a vibrant sea of colour, creativity and creations that wouldn’t feel out of a place in a Lewis Carroll novel.

Since entering this space around 18 months ago, I have been completely fascinated and mesmerised with the counterculture of people; raging against the machine and demanding a system for change.

Fast forward to today and I have close friends in the community who, outside of the real world, lead a secret double life running these Crypto social media accounts. These Twitter accounts are fronted by an array of crazy characters such as cartoon dogs, a cat made from ham, an intergalactic alien and of course everyone’s favourite psychedelic hyena.

On the surface this may appear to some entering the space as perhaps a little juvenile or maybe just a bit of harmless fun. However when you dig a little deeper you find a whole world of individuals, mostly millennials, who have dedicated their lives to learning about financial law, regulations, institutions and politics.

Many have also chosen to use their passion for Crypto and BlockChain technology to create businesses, run meetups, websites, create articles and reviews, produce video content via YouTube/BitTube – the list is endless but the point is we are seeing a movement of ambitious, mostly younger, individuals trying to carve out a career and find purpose in this new exciting industry.

This isn’t to say there aren’t people from all ages and walks of life in the Crypto community, however from my personal experience the majority of people I speak to are students, first jobbers or those that have become disillusioned with their current industry and are seeking some change and new perspective in life.

With Crypto we are experiencing a whole new generation coming through who, from an early age, are interested in financial instruments and how to use these tools to generate income for themselves and their future families. Many of which are learning with Cryptocurrencies first and then later applying these to stocks, forex and more traditional markets.

Doxxing

Spending time on social media we see a lot of these wacky and zany characters, often with “Crypto” as a prefix before their chosen character. But as fun and interesting as this all sounds one thing stood out to me.

Why do we only see a very small fraction of social media influencers showing their faces and releasing real details of themselves rather concealing their identity via a character or persona? Why is it that so many decide to remain anonymous and find comfort in the fact that they have the opportunity to participate in the space but also have their privacy respected?

If you have been in this space for a while you will have heard the phrase, “To doxx”

But what does this mean?

Dox –  past tense: doxxed; past participle: doxxed

“Search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.”

In the world of Crypto an individual who therefore uses this definition to define their own actions of doxxing illustrates the fact that they are knowingly, willingly and inherently putting themselves at risk in doing so for reasons I will later explore.

So why is Doxxing such a Taboo in Crypto?

I decided to explore these issues further and recently went on a quest to speak to as many high profile Twitter influencers that I could to get their views and hear their reasoning behind their decisions.

To begin with I shared a poll on my Twitter account running with the question “Why do you choose to remain anonymous” to which I received the following the results:

The majority of the voters did seem to think that all three options in the poll were of most importance when taking into consideration why they chose to remain anonymous – Privacy, Security and Fun/Community.

After viewing these results, however, I couldn’t help but think that because of the broad range of followers I have that the reasons behind this would differ greatly depending on account size. For example, someone with 50k followers who consistently shares winning trades is much more of a target for hackers then someone with 30 followers who doesn’t post very often.

This led me to ponder the reasoning of why some large accounts (some of the people we all know and trust), chose to remain anonymous or doxx themselves and the psychology behind this.


We’ve heard of many high profile accounts being famously hacked most notably Nik Patel (@cointradernik) and Ian Balina (@diaryofamademan). Numerous exchanges over the last couple of years have also been hacked such as the South Korean exchange Coinrail and most famously Coincheck of Japan.

We’ve also seen reports over the last 5 years of physical violence, brutality and even people being murdered for their Cryptocurrencies. The most recent case to make headlines was of three friends who tortured another one of their pals in his own apartment until he gave up laptops, mobiles and ledgers in order to gain access to his funds.

With this in mind,  it was only natural for me to assume that the larger your account becomes the more at risk you are to hacking or potentially, sadly, even worse.

Interviews

I first spoke with Panama (@Panama_TJ) who has been on Twitter since 2011 and has 41.7k followers.

S: You have a large following and have been in crypto since June 2011, what has been your decision never to doxx yourself to the public?

P: Initially I wanted to keep my persona anonymous due to my 9 to 5. I didn’t want my co-workers to know I was in CT, but the more I read about people getting mugged for being flashy about owning crypto (not that I’m flashy) the more paranoid I was to keep a layer of protection from a possible threat to me or my loved ones. Panama is safe in general but being as overly bullish I am on Bitcoin and crypto in general, anybody that holds it would for sure be more likely to suffer some sort of attempt of robbery, same as politicians here, thieves hustle hard.

S: Do you think that the higher your follower account on twitter the more risk there is of being hacked or worse?

P: Of course, the bigger the following count, the bigger the target you become.

S: Do you believe it’s important for the Crypto community that you have the decision to remain anonymous if chosen, unlike other traditional social media communities?

P:It is of utmost importance to me personally, it might not be for the rest of the community. Influencers need to decide the balance they want, keep it “anon”, build reputation slowly. Or be a IRL person, dox yourself and get more street cred by being “real”.

You can get in touch with Panama on his site here

I then spoke with Nik Patel (@cointradernik) who is fully doxxed. Nik has been on Twitter since 2014 and has 69.7k followers. He was also famously hacked as I mentioned earlier:

S: What made you decide to Doxx yourself as opposed to remain anonymous behind an avi?

N: I had always been semi-doxxed as it was, other than during the first 6 months or so that I was in the space (when I had the username @tenaciouscrypto). After that, I changed it to daytradernik and adopted a Leicester City photo, so that would’ve narrowed down who I was a great deal anyway. Then, when I returned to trading crypto in Jan ‘17, I decided to just fully doxx because I figured if anyone really wanted to find out who I was, it wasn’t going to be a difficult task as it was. Plus I think it generates some level of commitment to authenticity that isn’t possible when you remain anonymous.

S: Did/do you have to make extra precautions for your coins and holdings knowing you have some personal information out in public?

N: Well, despite having been in the space for years prior to fully doxxing, and having thought I had taken necessary precautions, I was remotely hacked in October 2017 and lost around two-thirds of my entire altcoin portfolio. This was a wake-up call. But I don’t think it was a symptom of being public, but more one of incompetence on my end.

S: Do you believe that the higher your follower count, the more risk there is of being hacked?

N: I don’t think that’s necessarily true; though, the higher your follower count the more publicly visible you are,  so I could see how you could potentially become more of a target. I think the risk is more strongly related to the level of caution you exhibit regarding profits. Those who flaunt their wealth all over social media tend to be the ones who get targeted.

S: Do you think it’s important for the Crypto community that you have the decision to remain anonymous if chosen, unlike other traditional social media communities

N: I think privacy and anonymity is something of critical importance to this community. And I think that though I don’t personally choose to exercise that right, there are a huge number of individuals in the community who require it in order to comfortably participate, and I think that’s important.

Nik has a best selling book on Amazon which covers aspects of security you can find here

Next I spoke with Teddy Cleps aka Crypto Freak (@teddycleps) who has been doxxed since he created his account. He posts videos and trading setups as well as running a telegram channel and discord. He joined in 2017 and has 12.1k followers. He had the following to say regarding being doxxed and security:

“I created this account not aware of how big the crypto community actually was – I simply wanted to document my Crypto journey so i simply created an account with my name and surname and shared a ton of charts. I didn’t even know that people were using cartoons/@virtual avatars.

Once I got to understand the community (and realised that everyone was a cartoon character) I knew for a fact that having my name and surname was a “strength” as it added a layer of transparency to my account.

I’m not a scammer, nor do I have anything to hide, so I have no reason to be hidden behind a cartoon.

However this does have a security drawback – I have an email dedicated for spam and people have tried to access it endless times.

So if you want to go out with no avatar make sure to always have very strong security measures.”

You can catch Teddy for further discussions on his Telegram here.

Crypto Christopher Walken (@cryptochrisw) is highly revered in the community and has built up his following through his dedication and passion to mining. He has been on Twitter since 2018 and has 12.1k followers. He started his account hidden behind an avatar but made the decision to doxx when his following stated to grow. I asked him about this below:

“So I decided to dox for 2 reasons –

1.  Trust Factor.  

Granted I feel that people already trusted me but putting a face to an account adds a different layer.

2. Business Opportunities:

I had so many YouTube offers that I felt it was time. Also being involved with actual companies now, big money investors aren’t going to want to work with someone hiding behind a fake avatar.  At this point i’m not worried about being hacked – I think i was just overly cautious because of Mt.Gox. However all of my coins are safely locked away except for small stacks I’m trading”

This prompted the following question:

S: So do you think before mainstream adoption can occur there has to be a serious look at how our coins and holdings are protected, if people have to go to extreme lengths just to reveal their identity to the community?

C: It’s not even that but ease of use is the worst part.  I don’t think the normal population cares about having to KYC.  The problem is using and purchasing Crypto. I deal with people on a daily basis that barely know how to use a computer trying to get into mining. There are so many people that still aren’t tech savvy enough to do this.  Buying on coinbase then sending to other exchanges to buy altcoins. Using a hardware wallet. All while not inputting incorrect addresses, or people not writing down their private key. There has to be an easier way.

Chris is currently the Community Manager for Honey Miner and Head of Business Development for BitMatrix Mining

The Crypto Monk (@thecryptomonk) has been on Twitter since 2012 and has amassed a following of 37.8k. He is renowned for his charting skills and technical analysis.

S: Do you believe that the higher your follower account on twitter the more risk there is of being hacked if you release any personal information?

M: Showing off online has never been something my kind of thing. It’s obviously dangerous since you expose yourself to scammers and greedy thieves. Also it’s not part of my personality. I’m not here to brag about my gains or losses. I’m here to share some content that people could find useful.

Having a large audience increase your exposure to shady people and thus puts you in a sensitive position. You have to be very careful with what you share.

S: Do you have any views on whether Crypto would potentially be taken more seriously if there were more real identities and less anon avi’s?

M: I don’t think that having anonymous people « representing » the community on Twitter is a bad thing. Moreover I have never really considered myself as an « influencer ». All i do is sharing my views on the market and charts. The bigger part of the adoption process is made outside CT which is obviously an echo chamber.

It might change in the future but i don’t believe that the impact we have on the crypto market is significant especially in a bear market.

S: Do you believe it’s important for the Crypto community that you have the decision to remain anonymous if chosen, unlike other traditional social media communities

M: I wouldn’t trade my privacy for clout. If people want to stay anonymous or not they should have the choice to do it. I’m not an ambassador of anything so there is no contract forcing me to doxx myself.

S: Do you believe you would have had more potential business opportunities in this space if you revealed your identity?

M: That’s possible. I guess that companies would rather work with «doxxed  influencers » than cartoon avatars but on CT it’s hard to find people revealing their identity.

I receive a ton of offers on a daily basis and i haven’t really found something interesting enough to collaborate.

I’m not here to take any single opportunity and make money off it. If it’s worth it, i would never compromise my reputation or my ethic.

Monk is the co-host of the MoonSoon Podcast and you can find him on Medium here

Finally I spoke with Crypto Mocho (@cryptomocho) who is arguably the most recognised influencer of Crypto Twitter. Mocho is the advisor to many projects and has a following of 123k.

S: You have a large following, one of the largest in twitter and have been a popular figure in crypto for a long time now, what’s been your decision never to doxx yourself to the public?  

M: I don’t need to reveal my identity to be taken more seriously,  also I really think that the crypto trader investors need to muv to some anon semidectral plataform we dont need to stay in a place where  they can ban or shadow ban ant any moment coz they dont like your posts/anwers/post/coments i dotn doxx myselfe coz i love to stay anon.

S: Do you believe that the higher your follower account on Twitter the more risk there is of being hacked if you release any personal information?

M: the risck is always there thos crypto space is all about big tech guys that are way up the average lavel so yes all walys need to play safe is part of the risck managment always protect like to use condom better use it always

S: Do you believe it’s important for the Crypto community that you have the decision to remain anonymous if chosen, unlike other traditional social media communities?

M: when i will get asked to doxx that tha dey i will goo full into the shadow anon is a right is not a cryme    there will be always a pice of internet land for us the crypto guys like us that gonna be anon and happy forever cheers.(sic)

You can follow Mocho on twitter at his account here.

Conclusion

For many in this industry their Twitter account is their livelihood. Their brand. Their business. Some will even regularly seek out specialist artwork to update their account and keep their brand fresh and exciting. When you have a brand and a following you have the opportunity to make money whether it be in paid sponsorships, paid tweets/groups or competitions etc.

After conducting these interviews it became very evident that there is a direct threat to an individual/influencer who has a high follower count and is actively sharing content that would indicate they are making profits. Because of this it seems inevitable that the larger your brand becomes the more of a target you become.

It is therefore not surprising that so many individuals choose to remain hidden behind avatars and keep their identities from the public. As already discussed in this article, these threats can range anywhere from hacking, fraud, physical violence or ultimately death.

Unfortunately there are many nefarious characters and opportunists in this space we call home. It seems as if one wrong move or decision could result in you losing capital whether that be from account hacking, exchange hacking, ICO scams, hidden premines or exit scams.

With this in mind there are things that are in your control. Stringent safety and security checks must be put firmly in place when entering the Cryptocurrency space and the story of Nik Patel and Coincheck should be a stark warning for anyone who thinks they are safe with their coins being stored on exchanges or not using the correct 2FA’s.

*Security should be the number one priority for any Cryptocurrency investor*

After reading this I encourage you to read this article by Panama that was written on his Medium channel and delves into the various sectors of Cryptocurrency security and how you can keep yourself and your valuable coins protected.

In my opinion, privacy is a human right and the beauty of this new emerging industry is that because you have the ability to generate various streams of revenue whilst remaining completely anonymous, you are blessed with Freedom. Freedom to decide who you want to be, what your goals are and what you want to achieve.

You do however have to take into consideration that in remaining anonymous, you may be limiting other potential revenue generating opportunities as with Chris Walken and his mining ventures. Many companies may not be comfortable with working with an anonymous person and will be seeking face to face meetings and agreeing methods of payment.

Ultimately the decision is no one else’s but your own and you have to carefully weigh up the pros and cons and decide how you want to play your role.

Final Thoughts

In summary, I feel there are many areas of this industry that need improvement and we still have a long way to go.

In order for widespread adoption to occur, is the average Joe really going to feel comfortable knowing if they have any personal details revealed whilst holding a Cryptocurrency, that they are potentially placed in danger? Is this something they would buy into? Not to mention the complexity of having to download a wallet, update to the latest version, set up multiple accounts and transfer coins etc, with the knowledge that one wrong key entry could lose your entire funds.

The bad characters, scammers and charlatans will need to be weeded out and the space cleansed in order for people to feel safe, comfortable and secure in holding their Cryptocurrencies. Luckily the industry is growing fast and with it the amount of content available in helping you stay safe out there in the wild west.

I implore you – If you do come across someone new to the space whether it be online, work colleague or family member – please educate them as much as possible and help guide them into our world.

Thank you very much for reading and I wish you the best of luck in your journey.

Stay safe

The Crypto Sloth

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CryptoSlothy

Follow me on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKyAhoOgHdshmU13zuSKUoA

Follow me on Medium https://medium.com/@thecryptosloth

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