Imagine writing about cryptocurrency for Forbes yet not having a clue what the whole point of cryptocurrency is.Bitcoin has an image problem and Alex Jones, a bitcoin true believer and alt-right radio host most famous for being sued by the parents of Sandy Hook school shooting victims, is a walking public relations nightmare.
Alex Jones likes bitcoin and cryptocurrencies (partly, but not entirely, because PayPal has relatively recently refused to process transactions for him), this week telling podcaster Joe Rogan "cryptocurrencies are the future." Unfortunately, Jones also told Rogan the media has "an alien base and they are making intergalactic deals," the U.S. government "has made deals with interdimensional aliens," and 5G cell phone coverage will "rattle your DNA apart."
He then demanded Rogan's other guest Eddie Bravo "choke him out" live on air. You can watch the whole (a rollercoaster four hours and forty minutes) here. I highly recommend it.
Alex Jones, who was recently booted from payments processor PayPal, has said he thinks bitcoin and cryptocurrencies "are the future."© 2018 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP
While serious suits on Wall Street and in the world's biggest banks are trying to figure out how to make money off of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, Alex Jones, and similar characters deemed undesirable, are poised to begin using bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to make money in a digital, centralized world, controlled by big banks and bigger tech. Some worse groups already are.
Bitcoin, currently trapped in a long-running bear market dubbed crypto winter for its damaging effect on the fledgling industry, had until 2017 been spreading around the world effectively under the public radar. It was used by geeks and criminals. Bitcoin wasn't exciting.
Then bitcoin was thrust violently into the public consciousness as a result of a bull run that saw the bitcoin price explode from under $1,000 at the beginning of 2017 to almost $20,000 in under 12 months. Suddenly everyone wanted a piece of bitcoin and banks were wondering how they'd missed out on this huge money spinner.
As early adopters of bitcoin became overnight millionaires, the bitcoin and crypto world was split in two. On one side, the crypto-anarchists, cypherpunks, libertarians, so-called dataists, and technology evangelists. On the other, those who see bitcoin and crypto as a money-making opportunity. Sometimes people fit into both groups. One of the good things about bitcoin and crypto is that they're all welcome. For now.
One of the reasons Jones is a fan of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is that last year, shortly after U.S. tech giants Apple, Facebook, and Google removed Jones from their platforms, stripping him of much of his audience, PayPal also decided to show Jones the door, refusing to process payments on Jones' InfoWars and affiliated websites.
Speaking on Rogan's podcast this week, Jones said: "You're never supposed to block someone from banking if they have a good record. I had an A++ rating ... on accounts I'd had for 20 years ... banks said they'd never seen a credit this high. Two days before PayPal banned us ... they added a hate symbol to our account, which effectively meant we were terrorists.
"They designated me an international terrorist ... and that's how they took five of my six bank accounts and got me down to one bank account ... saying you can't take money, you cannot be in commerce because you are a terrorist."
Jones added that his organization is preparing litigation against an unnamed "group out of Boston." He repeatedly said he felt he was being targetted because of the things he has said on his website and radio show.
This all makes Alex Jones a prime candidate for using bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Jones isn't the only controversial figure to be deplatformed by the likes of PayPal, which has attracted criticism from both sides of the political spectrum.
Over the last few months, PayPal has canceled the accounts of far-right group the Proud Boys, along with various left-leaning Antifa groups. In the U.K. PayPal stripped English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, a far-right activist, of his account. Robinson said PayPal has also frozen “a lot” of money that was in the account for 180 days.
Earlier this month, far-right activist Laura Loomer was kicked off of PayPal after coming under fire for anti-Muslim comments.
Meanwhile, some, unaffected by the ban hammer, have opted to move away from platforms that withhold their services based on political or ideological ideals. Philosopher and professional mediator Sam Harris ditched subscription service Patreon late last year after the crowdfunding membership platform moved to ban a number of right-wing commentators, accusing Patreon of "political bias."
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are likely to soon become a haven to some, if not all, of these outcasts. The bitcoin industry is going to have to decide whether it wants to share a broad platform with the likes of Alex Jones, or try to ostracize those that use bitcoin for bad.
Neither option is particularly appealing.