For more than a year, bots and trolls have used Twitter to scam cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, using Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s name. He finally called the scammers out over the weekend, tweeting: “This is not cool.”
Musk said “the crypto scam level on Twitter is reaching new levels” in response to a tweet about a user who noticed verified accounts being “hacked” to ask other users for bitcoin. Accounts belonging to retailers and even book publishers were taken over by hackers.
The hackers changed the name and profile image on the account to Musk’s, retaining their blue check marks that showed they were verified users. The hackers would then post tweets alleging to be from Musk himself that read: “I decided to make the biggest crypto-giveaway in the world, for all my readers who use Bitcoin … To verify your [bitcoin] address, send from 0.1 to 2 BTC to the address below and get from 1 to 20 BTC back.”
Musk urged people to “report [the scam] as soon as you see it. Troll/bot networks on Twitter are a *dire* problem for adversely affecting public discourse & ripping people off.”
He also encouraged Twitter itself to delete the bots and scammer accounts. He even cited Google’s PageRank as a gold standard for curbing cryptocurrency scam artists. Though Google search results still include these pages, Musk joked in a subsequent tweet that “the safest place to hide a dead body is the second page of Google search results!”
Report as soon as you see it. Troll/bot networks on Twitter are a *dire* problem for adversely affecting public discourse & ripping people off. Just dropping their prominence as a function of probable gaming of the system would be a big improvement.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 1, 2020
But the newly minted SoundCloud rapper isn’t completely against cryptocurrency, despite a January 10 tweet in which he noted: “Bitcoin is *not* my safe word.” Musk, though, is characteristically cryptic on Twitter ,and the recent comments on Bitcoin follow another April 2019 tweet in which he, much to the delight of car lovers everywhere, confirmed his “safe word.”
Cryptocurrency is my safe word
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2019
He clarified in a January 20 episode of the Third Row Tesla podcast that he is “neither here nor there on Bitcoin.” He is just concerned about scammers using unpaid people to endorse taking it from other people for nothing in return.
Musk, who was the founder of X.com, which went on to become PayPal, said he doesn’t want to be “judgmental about crypto” itself, but he did bring up the issue of screening real and fake accounts at a Twitter employee conference a few days earlier on January 16. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asked Musk, who was on video conference, what the social media platform could be doing better, and Musk responded with watching out for users who could be “trying to manipulate the system.”
— Mary Kate (@_maryjordan) January 16, 2020
A look at how large-scale the issue of the fake Bitcoin requests is has revealed hundreds of people who had been scammed out of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency. Despite that, Musk’s claim that the problem has gotten worse of late has not been substantiated as of yet.