Bitcoin becomes popular payment means for far right groups
Far right groups are flocking to Bitcoin as a means of payment according to Elliptic, a cryptocurrency analytics firm tracing their tracks on the blockchain, Coindesk reported. In recent years, PayPal and other major online payment platforms have begun to censor far-right. Deplatforming efforts really began after the scandalous, violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in August four years ago.
Bitcoin considered ‘currency of the alt right’
Before the rally Richard Spencer, a well-known representative of the alt-right, a movement promoting sexist, racist, and anti-Semitic views and seeking a white-only state, declared Bitcoin “the currency of the alt right.”
Since then, this statement has won its share of supporters in far-right extremist circles. This is important considering that in the US, domestic terrorism connected to such groups is on the rise.
Leaving an extremist mark on the blockchain
In the course of processing payments, quite a few right wing extremists want to be remembered on the blockchain. The symbol 1488 is frequently found in wallets belonging to members of this group according to Elliptic. Tempted by the immutability of Bitcoin transactions, alt right enthusiasts leave this number in their wallets. At today’s exchange rates, 0.001488 BTC is about $50.
According to Tom Robinson, cofounder of Elliptic, this is like leaving a swastika on the blockchain. 14 Words is a popular slogan among white supremacists. The 88 maps to the eighth letter of the alphabet, which stands both for “Heil” and “Hitler.”
Transactions with 1488 30K times higher than for average wallet
In a blog post, Elliptic said the number of Bitcoin transactions containing 1488 was about 30,000 times higher than for the average wallet: Robinson said in an interview with Coindesk:
We looked into whether we can use that model to proactively identify new far-right extremist wallets. We were able to identify about 100 new wallets that were then found to be linked to far-right extremist activity.
Obviously, the point of trying to identify these wallets is to be able to take preventive measures. Elliptic has mapped fundraising efforts and payments in the amount of $8.9 million. Almost half of all the payments received in one case were associated with transactions containing “1488.”
Of the blockchain’s public nature, Robinson added:
I’m not sure whether alt-right groups realized that they were allowing this activity to be monitored and identified in the blockchain, to the extent that we’re now doing. But I do think there’s a sort of, ‘Look at me, look what I’m doing’ kind of aspect of this that they like.