Far-right groups on the internet are increasingly turning to Bitcoin as a means of payment. This is claimed by Elliptic, a company that specialises in analysing and tracking crypto-transactions. In recent years, PayPal and other major online payment services have increasingly censored far-right platforms. The trigger for so-called deplatforming was the violent “Unite the Right” demo in the US city of Charlottesville four years ago.
But even before these events, a prominent representative of the right-wing scene Richard Spencer declared that Bitcoin was the “currency of the Alt-Right”. Many in the Alt-Right movement, like himself, hold sexist, racist and anti-Semitic views, and one aspires to a whites-only USA. Source: https://easy-to-read.eu/bitcoin-prime-en/
Since then, this statement has found many supporters in far-right circles. This is important considering that “domestic terrorism” is a hot topic in the US. It is often associated with these groups.
Extremist stamp on the blockchain
In the course of making payments, more than a few right-wing extremists want to immortalise themselves on the Blockchain. The 1488 symbol is often found in wallets belonging to members of this group, according to Elliptic. Lured by the immutability of Bitcoin transactions, alt-right supporters leave this number in their wallets. At today’s exchange rates, 0.001488 BTC is equivalent to about US$50.
According to Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic, it’s like smearing a swastika on the blockchain. 14 Words is a popular slogan among white supremacists. The 88 corresponds to the eighth letter of the alphabet, which stands for both “Heil” and “Hitler”.
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Analysis of bitcoin transactions can identify right-wing extremists
The blog post ahead of Elliptic, for example, describes that on one particular Bitcoin wallet, about 47% of receipts contain the number “1488”, about 30,000 times more often than it occurs on average. Robinson said in an interview with Coindesk:
We looked at whether we could use this model to proactively identify new far-right wallets. We were able to identify about 100 new wallets that were then associated with far-right activity.
In trying to identify these wallets, they want to take preventative measures. Elliptic has already identified $8.9 million worth of transactions as those linked to the far-right. half of all payments received in one case were linked to transactions containing “1488”.
I’m not sure alt-right groups are aware that we can track and identify this activity on the blockchain. But I’m sure a lot of them like the fact that we can see what they’re doing.