How to not give money to the bitcoin scammers who hacked Elon Musk’s Twitter account
Posted On July 16, 2020
According to hysterical Twitter users, several high-profile verified Twitter accounts have been hacked, including but not limited to: Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Apple, and Kanye West. Not only that, bitcoin scammers have reportedly conned over 300 people into giving them over $100k dollars.
Furthermore, it looks like all verified Twitter accounts have been suspended in an effort to lock this problem down.
As I didn’t see this happen in real time, I can only go off of the paper trail provided by Twitter leadership, various users, and the reeling news outlets scrambling to cover this story. It appears credible.
What did the bitcoin hackers use to engineer this widespread operation and how did so many people get duped?
Furthermore, why is Kira even writing about this?
On the technical side, we don’t fucking know. Twitter dot com is still investigating the hacking of verified accounts.
Twitter’s security is either patently horrible, or it’s possible a rogue employee went off the rails. My bitcoin is on faulty security and human error: never underestimate the capacity for hubris.
In any case, I’m writing about this for one reason and one reason only:
Objectively terrible media literacy is rampant, and this can be fought against with two simple tools: logic and research.
Let me give you a quick guide on media literacy by way of this ridiculous event, and those two very simple tools:
Step 1: Always be skeptical when rich people ask for handouts
Chances are, it’s a scam
Even if Elon & Co. did concoct some miraculous Mr. Robot scheme to give money (and power) to the people, rich people don’t need your charity. They have enough cash as it is, and if they want to give back, they can do that fairly easily.
Don’t cry about liquid assets.
It’s not relevant when Bezos has more money than God himself. Even if he can’t Scrooge McDuck into his piggy bank and shit out gold coins for the masses at will, he has access to said Scrooge piggy bank.
He doesn’t need your direct charity.
This also rings true for multi-level-marketing schemes. If it seems like it’s an MLM scam, it probably is.
If someone promises you that their 12 step Mastermind Class will make you jillions of dollars, but only if you cough up $2k for a seat, it’s probably a scam.
That’s how they make their jillions—by duping you. Resist the urge to throw money at people just because they’re a celebrity. Instead, ignore fluff prose, and look for actual services rendered.
The problem here isn’t that a buttload of verified accounts were hacked. I don’t personally care if Elon Musk is Having A Bad Day where his social media account is concerned.
The security issue is alarming, but I’m not Grimes, nor am I on his PR team. His internet brand is not my priority.
The problem here is that over 300 people (a small population, but $100k is not negligible) threw money at social media and industry titans without thinking twice about it.
You must make peace with the fact, first, that rich/influential people are not generally keen on just dumping a bunch of coin into random peoples’ wallets.
If they were, they wouldn’t be as rich as they are.
Start with that logic.
Step 2: Verify literally everything
If the prior step and truth-bomb somehow failed to reach your logic centers, because the worms of capitalism have taken up real estate in your skull and made a mess of things, consider this:
If something seems sketchy, all it takes is copying some text and pasting it to see if it’s legit. As Google itself catalogs Twitter like its a whole-ass website, you could even use Google for this.
When in doubt, look at what media you’re engaging with, try to search for where else it is, and look for a pattern.
The pattern here is fairly self-evident:
This becomes trickier where data is concerned, because many scientific publications that house peer reviewed studies keep everything behind a paywall.
Many scientists, professors and academics actually do not get paid in this transaction. If the knowledge you seek is tied-up behind something you can’t access, and you want to verify it, you can possibly email the person in question.
Chances are, they could be willing to give you the information for free. It’s worth a shot. Don’t ask, don’t get.
Furthermore, you could score something like the Google Chrome extension Kopernio, which boasts it allows you access to plenty of PDFs, free.
Lastly, be aware of ongoing scams that may or may not affect you. Falling prey to phishing links is avoidable.
Because of this, trying every avenue to figure out if what you’re reading is true should be exhausted.
Step #3: Trust nobody
Not even your heroes
Having a verified Twitter account does not make someone an expert. Nor does having 100k followers. Nor does working for a major news publication. The name, the brand, the clout, the reach means very little in the grand scope of intellectual honesty.
If someone—or some outlet—has proven to be a good source of information: fine. But please approach online personalities, platforms, and publications carefully.
It is your sole responsibility as someone who uses the internet and consumes information to try your very best to figure out if what you’re engaging with is cogent and intellectually honest.
You cannot reasonably expect news, social media, blogging, Youtuber, and marketing outlets to give you all the facts, because the internet is based on clout as capitalist proxy.
Clout is contingent on engagement, which is contingent on emotional frenzy, and therefore digital media is liable to alteration and misrepresentation.
This is a fact of the market dynamics of the economy of online engagement and traffic. If you want me to expand on this, subscribe to this blog, because I’m going to break this crap wide open in the coming weeks.
You deserve to know the digital seas you swim in, and I aim to help you reach the shore and avoid grifting pirates.
How can you avoid giving money to online scammers at large?
Use your noodle
Clearly, the bitcoin scammers who hacked Kanye West and others are not here in the name of truth and justice. They are not Elliot Alderson. They want money, and they are leveraging verified Twitter accounts by influential people for a cash-grab. But that’s ultimately besides the point.
The point I’m making is very clear: you must approach online objects with skepticism.
Reading and believing something to be true means you are forming opinions based on something you have not verified is in the realm of solvency.
This is dangerous, not just for yourself, but for others too.
Today, it may mean you could lose a chunk of change. Tomorrow, it could mean you spread something false that complicates an important issue.
Lastly, in the future, it could mean that truth has become untruth, and intellectual honesty has gone the way of the dinosaurs.