Twitter Turns to Blockchain Technology to Prevent Scams
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has presented a possible solution to the issue of Twitter fraud at a Congressional committee Wednesday, stating that the social media platform is currently investigating the application of blockchain technology to create decentralized trust and enforcement mechanisms.
The Twitter ecosystem is saturated with scams, fraud and impersonation, and the Twitter cryptocurrency community, in particular, is a prime target for scammers, with account impersonation fraud so common that many notable industry personas have updated their profiles to reflect the fact that they are, unfortunately, not giving away free crypto.
Twitter CEO Testifies Before Senate
Dorsey highlighted the importance of blockchain technology in combating Twitter fraud during a House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing question session, led by Rep. Doris Matsui, focused on content moderation, privacy protection, misinformation and purported bias against political conservatives on Twitter.
Both Dorsey and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg have recently testified before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss foreign interference in U.S. elections via social media. During a hearing on Wednesday, which focused on allegations that tech is biased against right-leaning users, Dorsey noted Twitter’s lack of preparedness for dealing with “propaganda through bots and human coordination, disinformation campaigns and divisive filter bubbles.”
Rep. Matsui questioned Dorsey regarding the CEO’s previously-stated interest in blockchain technology, emphasizing Dorsey’s stance on its implementation “in an effort to verify identity to fight misinformation and scams.”
Blockchain technology, states Dorsey, is currently being considered by Twitter as a solution to the issues of trust and enforcement, stating that current investigative efforts have “gone as deep as we’d like just yet.” Dorsey maintains a strong presence in the blockchain sector as the CEO of Payment processor Square, which recently implemented cryptocurrency buy and sell features in the Square Cash mobile app.
Crypto Twitter Battles Army of Scammers
Blockchain technology, specifically blockchain-based identity management, could have a significant impact on the vast amount of fraud and impersonation that occurs within the cryptocurrency Twittersphere.
Research published by Duo Security, a unified access security and multi-factor authentication platform, reveals the sophistication of cryptocurrency Twitter scammers–identifying massive scam botnets consisting of over 15,000 bots that siphon crypto away from users by spoofing cryptocurrency exchanges, celebrities, news organizations and verified accounts.
Interestingly, Twitter scam bots are surprisingly complex–exhibiting three-tiered, hierarchical structures that consist of scam publishing bots, hub accounts that lend credibility to individual bots and amplification bots that like tweets to artificially elevate its popularity. Twitter’s public response to the published research conceded that up to 5 percent of all accounts are spam-related.
Statistics available from EtherScamDB demonstrate how profitable Twitter scamming can be. To date, over $5 million has been sent to wallet addresses linked to Twitter scams, with some truly tragic examples. One unfortunate user, for example, sent 30 ETH to a fake Erik Voorhees wallet.
💰 ETH giveaway scam stats:
💢 EtherScamDB lists 468 known addresses
📉 8,148 ETH ($4.9M) sent to scam addresses
💸 Someone sent 30 ETH (~$18k) to fake Erik Voorhees https://t.co/kjypOZfQBC
Even if part is fake activity, this is still easily a million dollar scam! pic.twitter.com/fqVu8kc6kO
— John Backus (@backus) June 9, 2018
Fortunately for Twitter, there are a number of blockchain-based identity solutions that could be integrated into a blockchain-driven solution aimed at fighting scams and fraud on the platform. The Ethereum ERC725 protocol is a self-sovereign identity management solution that delivers decentralized identity management—integrating a similar solution could see scam accounts on Twitter disappear entirely.
Neither Dorsey nor Twitter has made an official announcement regarding the integration of blockchain solutions. Rep. Matsui, however, took the opportunity during the Senate hearing to announce the creation of a working group of stakeholders with the intent of establishing a consensus-based definition of blockchain by the Department of Commerce.
Cover Photo by Fabian Grohs on Unsplash
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