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Bit.ly Blocks Crypto Links(1)
Andreas Antonopoulos is one of the biggest names in crypto, and Mastering Ethereum is his latest book. From what I can tell, Mastering Ethereum has over 200 external links that run through Bit.ly’s URL shortening service, and they have all been blocked.
This is a really unfortunate situation because Antonopoulos’ book is less than four weeks away from publication. At the same time, I find this whole blocking issue to be super ironic because Antonopoulos is one of the world’s biggest proponents of decentralization. Yet, here he is gambling with the success of his book by succumbing to a centralized URL shortening service in the name of convenience.
As expected, Crypto Twitter has rushed to defend Antonopoulos by bombarding Bit.ly with negative comments. I have a different perspective on this. I don’t think Bit.ly is at fault here because users have to agree to their terms before using the service. Opinions aside, I’m sure the people who run Bit.ly have their own agendas to follow, and I don’t see any issues with them blocking content that they don’t agree with.
This gets me thinking though. I also use Bit.ly’s URL shortening service, albeit with a custom domain (dcryp.to). I’m not nearly as famous as Andreas Antonopoulos, but I also run a lot of crypto-related links through Bit.ly. I suppose the distinction that needs to be made here is if Bit.ly was specifically targeting Antonopoulos’ book or crypto content in general. Regardless, it might be time to migrate over to a self-hosted solution once again. Time to dig up some YOURLS documentation again.
The SEC’s Crypto Crackdown Report
The SEC’s Division of Enforcement has released its annual report(2), and there are several mentions of cryptocurrencies and ICOs. The report revealed the SEC “has opened dozens of investigations involving ICOs and digital assets, many of which were ongoing at the close of FY 2018.”
The most notable example of an ICO crackdown from the report is Titanium, a blockchain project that lied about business partnerships with PayPal, Verizon, Boeing, and The Walt Disney Company. According to the official litigation release from the SEC(3), “Titanium’s website contained fabricated testimonials from corporate customers and that Stollaire [President of Titanium] publicly – and fraudulently – claimed to have relationships with numerous corporate clients.”
Now, it’s clear the SEC is retroactively targeting ICOs that committed criminal acts in the unregulated past. The sad truth is plenty of blockchain projects have advertised fake partnerships or overstated real partnerships in order to generate ICO hype. With this in mind, it’ll be interesting to see what other projects get REKT over the next 6-8 months. One potential target that comes to mind is Substratum, a blockchain project that advertised partnerships with Apple, Disney, Facebook, HP, and more(4). These partnerships have since been removed from Substratum’s website following a successful ICO. Substratum’s CEO, Justin Tabb, has also made public “100x” and “$30” price predictions for Substratum’s token, SUB – a clear example of price manipulation. Long story short, I wouldn’t be surprised if Substratum is already on the SEC’s radar.
- “Bit.ly Reportedly Blocks ‘200’ Links From Andreas Antonopoulos’ ‘Mastering Ethereum’”. Cointelegraph.com. November 5, 2018. ↩
- “Annual Report, Division of Enforcement”. SEC.gov. November 2018. ↩
- “SEC Obtains Preliminary Injunction in Fraudulent Coin Offering Scheme, Litigation Release No. 24160”. SEC.gov. June 7, 2018. ↩
- “Substratum – Earn Cryptocurrency through the Decentralized Web.” Archive.is, 18 Aug. 2017. ↩