Reddit Terrorizes Another Teen, This Time Over the Bitcoin App She Created

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When 16-year-old Harshita Arora posted on Reddit about the crypto price tracking app she created the most she hoped for was a few downloads and perhaps some useful user feedback.

Instead, she was met with rape threats, days of online abuse, a deluge of hateful emails, tweets, and messages claiming that she had plagiarized the entire app.

There probably isnt a 16 year old girl at all, this whole thing was a scam with the wunderkind backstory to sell as many $0.99 apps as quickly as possible. Probably made the creator a few thousand from reddit alone, one user wrote.

The fact that minority victim status seems to be the only real currency with people today is fucking surreal, said another.

But Arora never claimed to be a victim. She only claimed to be herself, a self-taught designer, amatauer coder, and aspiring entrepreneur from a small town outside New Delhi in India.

Like a growing number of young Indians, Arora initially saw the tech industry and startup world as a way to potentially make money and escape her small town life.

She studied computer science in school, taught herself Adobe design software by night and, in 2016, decided to drop out of classes altogether and unschool herself in order to pursue a career in tech.

Within months, Arora had earned herself a prestigious internship at Salesforce in Bangalore. Shortly after that, she was accepted into an MIT summer program, where her and a team built and launched a new app within a matter of weeks.

After the MIT program ended, Arora went to Silicon Valley for a few months to network. She looked for another internship, couldnt get a work visa in time, and so returned back home to live with her parents in India.

Arora said her experience in the states, particularly meeting other startup entrepreneurs in the Valley, changed the way she thought about the industry. She no longer saw startup life as the highway to riches it once seemed. Instead, she realized it was hard and volatilebut came to appreciate being an entrepreneur could also be incredibly rewarding.

She went back home to India and began working on her own products.

She taught herself Swift, the programming language used to build iPhone apps, and spent hours and hours on Quora networking with fellow young techies and asking questions about product development and coding.

On Jan. 20, she released her product to the world, a sleek and simple cryptocurrency price tracking app for iPhone called Crypto Price Tracker.

Arora announced the product with a marketing plan she devised on her own that included a Medium post, Product Hunt submission, and posting about the app on the bitcoin subreddit, where Arora thought she might be able to get traction from potential users.

For about a week, everything went as planned.

Arora got a few hundred users, the founder and CEO of Product Hunt praised her in a tweet, and several happy users sent messages to give helpful feedback or say they were enjoying the app.

Some asked how she had produced such a great product so quickly, and she explained her background in tech, adding that she had some help from mentors and an outside developer to help with the backend code. It was, to her, pretty standard stuff.

But by Feb. 5, Reddit users decided Arora couldnt have made the app herself.

A woman had downloaded Aroras app on a jailbroken iPhone, attempted to decrypt the apps code and dig into her public development history.

The woman posted an angry blog post attempting to bash Aroras work titled, Crypto Price Tracker made by 16-yr old actually plagiarized.

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In the post, she made several accusations that were later proven to be baseless. Still, the suggestion that perhaps Arora, a young women, didnt deserve the praise she was receiving was enough to stoke a fire in the belly of some Reddit commentators.

Streams of hate poured in. Aroras email was flooded with abusive language, disturbing messages, and veiled threats.

Redditors attempted to discredit her and call her a liar. They said only an older, more advanced programmer, probably a man, could build an app like hers.

I doubt the girl herself came up with the idea and hired the contractor(s) herself. Shes a 16 year old girl, she doesnt have the wherewithal or funds to do it herself (hiring the contractor, or coding the app), one commenter wrote. Shes trying to look pretty for boys in her class, worrying about what the bitch Jessie said to Brittany about Cloe who likes Brian even though he so likes Ciara, and sitting in her room listening to 21 pilots or whoever. Thats my take anyway.

At first, Arora attempted to respond to the messages in earnest. She tried to show her work and respond to the accusations.

She was shocked to see a man she considered to be a friend turn on her and bash her in public as an untalented fraud.

But there was no halting the Reddit mob.

Arora was overwhelmed, but her connections in the tech industry and with close friends who understood the internet eventually paid off. They encouraged her to tweet and reach out to the trolls employers, universities, and anyone in a position of power to make them stop.

The strategy worked.

After Arora and her friends relentlessly contacted the employers of some of the older men who were harassing her, many backed down. One of the men who most aggressively perpetuated the harassment campaign publicly apologized on Twitter. The woman who published the defamatory blog post about Aroras technical abilities took it down.

Arora was left shaken, but ultimately felt some sense of justice. She never told her parents any of what happened to her online.

There is a myth in tech world that startup founders are singular, usually male geniuses with brilliant ideas and the ability to code their visions into products effortlessly.

The founder myth perpetuates a vision of the world where there are no designers, no product people, no marketers, or business development specialists to help a product succeed. A products success, in these stories, is credited to one genius person, like Steve Jobs.

In reality, most products are built by jumbled groups of people iterating on different versions of a shared mission.

Arora considers herself primarily a designer, and her attention to design is clear in the Crypto Price Tracker app. But even she admits shes not the most excellent coder. So, like any young founder with a vision, she got help writing the back end code for the app and had input from mentors to execute her vision.

The idea that somehow the app is less hers than others, or that she doesnt deserve credit for the product because a freelancer helped her write a few lines of code for a product she fully designed, is a distortion of the truth. Non-technical male founders regularly fail to contribute to the codebases of products theyre often lauded for.

People, programmers especially, think of design as just bring able to generate color, text and use software, Arora said. They underestimate how much work it takes and how much you need to think about UX and UI. It took me longer to design app from scratch than programming.

Arora is also just 16-years-old. She said she is trying to learn and find her way in the tech community, and she never sought to sell herself as some sort of young savant or all-encompassing genius. In fact, she'd like just the opposite.

I dont want to be called a prodigy, she said. Its not what I am. It sounds like Im trying to tell people Im smarter than them. It sounds Im trying to be superior, when I dont want to be. I reply to everyone who asks me question or asks for resources, I am trying to learn things myself.

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Bitcoin’s Plunge in Volume Stirs Questions About Its Usage

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Earlier this year, when Bitcoin’s price fell by more than 60 percent from its record close, a less-noticed Bitcoin figure also plunged: the number of daily transactions.

There are many explanations for the fall-off in trading, from software- to news-related. What’s less understood is why the level hasn’t recovered as Bitcoin’s price made a 50 percent comeback since Feb. 5. That’s left some investors wondering whether the cryptocurrency is waning in popularity.

The average number of trades recorded daily has roughly dropped in half from the December highs and touched its lowest in two years last month, even as Bitcoin became a household name and roared back to near $11,000.

The transaction data may be bad news for Bitcoin bulls, according to Charles Morris, chief investment officer of Newscape Capital Group in London, who invests in cryptocurrencies. Trading and purchases on the Bitcoin network, which can be measured by metrics like transaction volume, is indicative of price direction, he said.

Average transaction confirmation times have tumbled — though that may be in part because the technology that underlies Bitcoin has already been adapted to address some of these delays. For example, a software enhancement known as the SegWit protocol, changing the way data is stored on the blockchain, was activated last week by Coinbase Inc., the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange.

Not everyone agrees that lower volumes signal trouble for Bitcoin. It may be a healthy return to normality and signs that the market is maturing.

Should prices start rallying again, traders may well be coaxed back, according to David Drake, whose New York-based family office has more than $10 million in cryptocurrency and blockchain investments. He sees the currency soaring to $35,000 by the end of the year.

“We have a legacy of transactions being too slow and expensive, and it will take some time for people to forget,” Drake said by phone. “But they’ll come back.”

The decline in prices may itself be to blame for lower trading volumes in Bitcoin. And websites that once only allowed payment in Bitcoin now accept a much wider range of digital currencies, according to Kyle Samani, managing partner at crypto hedge fund Multicoin Capital. That makes alternative currencies more appealing than the first-mover in the space. A year ago, bitcoin’s market capitalization was about 85 percent of the total sector. It’s now around 40 percent, according to website

“Merchants, payment processors and online gambling are moving off of Bitcoin,” Samani, who has $50 million allocated to the space, said in an email. “Our Bitcoin position as a fund is small — I believe Bitcoin is in the process of failing.”

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    Bitcoin Snaps Slide as Crypto Markets Dodge Push for Regulation

    Bitcoin rose for the first time in six days, snapping a losing streak that had helped push overall losses in digital currencies to about $500 billion, as the top U.S. market cops said they possessed all the authority needed to regulate and risk appetite returned to financial markets.

    Prices steadied as Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton reiterated in a Congressional hearing that he believes every initial coin offering he’s seen is a securities sale and the agency already possesses the regulatory oversight needed for enforcement.

    “It was great for the space,” said John O’Rourke, chief executive officer of Riot Blockchain Inc., which invests in cryptocurrency and blockchain startups. “They don’t want to do anything to hamper the development of this technology.”

    Lawmakers may still need to to pass legislation that gives agencies jurisdiction over Bitcoin’s spot market and the online platforms that digital coins trade on, Clayton and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo said during the hearing.

    The selloff had knocked about half a trillion dollars from digital coins since early January. That’s shaken a nascent market whose core attraction — anonymity and decentralization — is being challenged as never before by regulators.

    Tuesday’s U.S. hearings follow comments from Bank for International Settlements General Manager Agustin Carstens that there’s a “strong case” for authorities to rein in digital currencies and that central banks — along with finance ministries, tax offices and financial market regulators — should police the “digital frontier.”

    “Novel technology is not the same as better technology or better economics,” Carstens said in a speech in Frankfurt. He said Bitcoin may have been intended as an alternative payment system with no government involvement, yet it has become “a combination of a bubble, a Ponzi scheme and an environmental disaster,” in reference to its electricity use.

    Cryptocurrencies tracked by have lost more than $500 billion of market value since early January as governments clamped down, credit-card issuers halted purchases and investors grew increasingly concerned that last year’s meteoric rise in digital assets was unjustified. The selloff had coincided with a rout in global equities.

    For more on cryptocurrencies:
    Bitcoin Crash Sees Miners Fried in This Game of Chicken: Gadfly
    Bitcoin Trading Signal That Returned 1,152% Is Flashing Sell
    Cryptocurrency Rules From Congress Sought by U.S. Market Cops
    Bitcoin Selloff Among Biggest in Digital Coin’s History: Chart
    Why Bitcoin Goes Down as Well as Up (Plus What It Is): QuickTake
    Power-Hungry Crypto Mines Clean Up as Cost of Electricity Grows

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      Venezuela’s new bitcoin: an ingenious plan or worthless cryptocurrency?

      Some analysts see the petro as a desperate move to secure cash amid an economic meltdown brought about by President Nicols Maduros policies

      Venezuela’s new bitcoin: an ingenious plan or worthless cryptocurrency?

      Some analysts see the petro as a desperate move to secure cash amid an economic meltdown brought about by President Nicols Maduros policies

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      How Iceland became the bitcoin miners paradise

      The island nation is the first to use more electricity on mining cryptocurriencies than on its households thanks in part to its magma-fuelled power plants

      How Iceland became the bitcoin miners paradise

      The island nation is the first to use more electricity on mining cryptocurriencies than on its households thanks in part to its magma-fuelled power plants

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      A Classic Scam Finds New Life Stealing Bitcoin on Twitter

      A new version of a classic online scam is percolating on Twitter. And while anyone even halfway paying attention likely wouldn't fall for it, the trick has already raked in thousands of dollars of ethereum and bitcoin in less than a week.

      The scheme itself is pretty straightforward: Attackers make Twitter handles that closely mimic the verified accounts of well-known figures like Elon Musk, John McAfee, or Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin. Then they respond to one of those genuine tweets, giving the appearance of having started a thread, in which they claim that they'll send a significant quantity of cryptocurrency (like 2 bitcoin) to anyone who sends a smaller amount of currency (like 0.02 bitcoin) to a particular wallet. Yup, that's it. As of publication, you can see new attempts popping up on Twitter every few minutes.

      "It's like a social media impersonation mixed with a classic Nigerian prince scam," says Crane Hassold, a threat intelligence manager at the security firm PhishLabs, who previously worked as a digital behavior analyst for the FBI. "Twitter will likely start blocking the accounts making the posts, but the level of effort needed for this scam is so low that it'll probably be a cat and mouse game, and the return on investment at the beginning will be pretty good for the actor."

      The scheme also closely resembles a popular trick in the game Eve Online, in which scammers post "send a little, get a lot" promises to collect Eve's in-game currency (known as ISK) in its Jita solar system, which acts as the commerce center. Like cryptocurrency, ISK is stored in electronic wallets for digital transactions.

      'The level of effort needed for this scam is so low that it'll probably be a cat and mouse game'

      Crane Hassold, PhishLabs

      The Twitter version, which started cropping up on February 1, doesn't appear to be a total blockbuster, since most people know to avoid "send a little, get a lot" setups. (Not to mention that Elon Musk probably wouldn't randomly give out a ton of bitcoin for no reason through Twitter. We think.) Still, many of the bitcoin and ethereum wallets the attackers set up do have a low key stream of payments coming in. For example, one wallet posted in a fake John McAfee tweet, which promised 20 bitcoin for every 0.02 received, racked up 0.184 bitcoin within hours. At current prices that's about $1,500. Not a gold rush, but also not bad for a scam that takes so little effort.

      "It’s all a statistics game. They aren’t targeting folks who need to be convinced, they’re targeting folks who will knee-jerk react," says Tinker, a researcher from the Dallas Hackers Association who was early to spot the scam. "By lessening the length of the message, it makes the scam more consumable. Combine that with impersonating famous people sending out popular tweets and the fall of bitcoin—folks are desperate to get a gain on their loss."

      As the price of cryptocurrencies has soared—and then crashed back down—scammers have capitalized on the booms and preyed on victims of the busts. The hustles are diverse, including all different types of phishing, spamming, and the notorious development of bogus initial coin offerings, but social media impersonation has a role in many of them, perhaps because so much discussion, speculation, and misinformation about cryptocurrency takes place there.

      One attempt to identify bogus accounts impersonating prominent cryptocurrency community members is the new Chrome Extension "EtherSecurityLookup." Created by web developer Harry Denley, who also makes the anti-phishing tool "EtherAddressLookup," the new extension checks Twitter accounts against a whitelist of legitimate cryptocurrency community members, and flags handles that are too similar as potentially problematic.

      Impersonation on social media is an ongoing problem, but these rackets violate the user agreements of pretty much every service, and platforms like Twitter can discourage them by playing whack-a-mole with the malicious accounts. And scams that are easy for fraudsters to run never totally go away, because it doesn't take much investment to do them as quick one-offs. "It's like any of the old school schemes," PhishLabs' Hassold says. "They're somehow still around, because there are always people who are going to fall for it."

      The Cryptocurrency Racket

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      The iced tea company that changed its name to include blockchain retracts on bitcoin mining operation

      Remember the iced tea company that changed its name to Long Blockchain and immediately shot up by 500 percent on the stock market? Well, it turns out it may not be getting into the blockchain after all.

      The company has decided to back off from its pledge to buy 1,000 bitcoin mining machines — just six weeks after it said it would be doing so.

      Of course, six weeks ago bitcoin was worth a whole lot more than it is now — it’s currently trading at $10,000 less than it was at the beginning of the year. That’s not to say it won’t go up again, but investors are rightfully skittish at this point.

      That slump has affected Long Blockchain’s shares, which have plunged 50 percent since it reached its dizzying height, causing the company’s market cap to sink below the $35 million minimum value required to list on Nasdaq’s exchange.

      “While we continue to believe in the value of mining equipment to the blockchain ecosystem, the purchase of these machines — which was negotiated as a no-risk option to the Company — was just one of the multiple strategic avenues we have been considering,” Shamyl Malik, head of the Company’s Blockchain Strategy Committee, said in a statement.

      Instead, Long Blockchain says it will “continue to evaluate the purchase of mining equipment for Bitcoin and other digital currencies as part of our larger blockchain initiative” as it moves ahead on completing a merger with British firm Stater Blockchain, which works on “developing and deploying globally scalable blockchain technology solutions in the financial market,” according to its website.

      Note, however, Long Blockchain was already in a pickle before adding blockchain to the name. Shares dipped by 24 percent over the last 12 months, and the company received a warning letter from Nasdaq in October, prompting the zany strategy to change its name to a zeitgeisty buzzword.

      As it turns out, glomming on to the trend of the moment to boost your value can only hold you for so long. There’s no word on when the merger will be complete, but one thing is clear — Long Blockchain is not likely to see the type of gains it once did simply by changing its name.

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      The CFTC just went after a cryptocurrency, and the price of Bitcoin is plummeting

      Not looking good.
      Image: traviswolfe/getty

      The price of Bitcoin plummeted below $10,000 Tuesday morning as news broke that The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission had subpoenaed Tether and Bitfinex, a so-called stablecoin cryptocurrency and one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, respectively. 

      First reported by Bloomberg, news of the December 6 subpoenas follows allegations from critics of Tether that the digital currency may not in fact be backed on a one-to-one basis with U.S. dollars as its founders claim. 

      “We routinely receive legal process from law enforcement agents and regulators conducting investigations,” Bitfinex and Tether said in a statement published by Bloomberg. “It is our policy not to comment on any such requests.”

      While the exact motivation behind the subpoena is unclear at this time, Tether skeptics have straight up called the digital token a “scam,” and have predicted that its unraveling could bring the price of Bitcoin down by as much as 80 percent. 

      We have reached out to Tether for comment, and will update this post when and if we hear back. In the meantime, however, the price of Bitcoin continues to fall. At the time of this writing it sits at $9,890.  

      This story has been updated to note the date the subpoenas were sent.

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      PSA: No India hasnt banned Bitcoin but its still talking tough on crypto

      Reports of the death of Bitcoin in India have been greatly exaggerated.

      On Thursday a budget speech by finance minister Arun Jaitley generated a tsunami of ‘the Bitcoin party is over in India’ headlines, adding to downward pressures on the cryptocurrency.

      Safe to say, the truth of the matter is a lot more gray. Yes, Jaitley talked tough on crypto currencies. But no, there was no outright ban — not yet, anyway. The Indian government’s plans for crypto regulation remain unformulated (or at least unstated). It did set up a committee to look into crypto back in April. Which reported in Jaitley in August. But no regulations have been confirmed, leaving rumors to swirl.

      Here’s the relevant chunk of Jaitley’s budget speech (via The India Express):

      Distributed ledger system or the block chain technology allows organization of any chain of records or transactions without the need of intermediaries. The Government does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system. The Government will explore use of block chain technology proactively for ushering in digital economy.

      One clear takeaway from that is the minister is sounding much more positive about blockchain technology. And his tonal contrast between blockchain and cryptocurrencies is obviously intentional — and therefore interesting.

      So yes Jaitley wants to sound like he’s pouring cold water on crypto. But whether that means you should hodl or not depends on your own personal threshold for risk.

      The point about the Indian government not recognizing crypto as legal tender was already made by Jaitley, back in December. And a crackdown on crypto financing illegitimate activities is what any government will say it wants to do. What’s more interesting is the second clause in his sentence — where he tacks on “or as part of the payment system”, which is certainly suggestive of a ban. But nothing is explicitly stated.

      And, as CNN reported earlier, Jaitley was explicitly asked if the government is moving to ban cryptocurrencies by Indian state-owned broadcaster Doordarshan, which interviewed him after the budget speech.

      Here’s CNN’s translation of the exchange (emphasis mine):

      TV Host: We’ve seen a lot of excitement over bitcoins. Why aren’t you banning it instead of stating it isn’t legal tender?

      Jaitley: We are discouraging people from using it now. There is a government committee that’s looking into it right now and they will announce their decisions and next steps after they are done.

      So really the minister’s intention looks to have been to try and inject a little more sanity into the crypto space by splashing a little cold water around. And no one should argue with the sense of that.

      But how exactly will Bitcoin and crypto be regulated in India? Well, that remains to be seen.

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      50 Cent admits he has never owned, and does not now own any bitcoin

      Reports last month that rapper 50 Cent had forgotten about $7 million or so in bitcoin he owned have been given the lie by the man himself, who declares in court documents that he “has never owned, and does not now own, a bitcoin account or any bitcoin,” nor did any of his companies.

      The court documents were first obtained by The Blast, but I tracked them down as well. Curtis James Jackson III (50 Cent’s legal name) filed the “Declaration on bitcoins” last week, well after the reports had circulated that he had rediscovered the trove of cryptocurrency. He said at the time: “I’m a keep it real I forgot I did that shit. Lol.”

      Turns out, however, he never touched bitcoin himself. As he states in the declaration:

      All online transactions involving my brand were handled by an independently owned and operated third part, Central Nervous LLC.. the limited bitcoin transactions that occurred online were processed and converted to U.S. Dollars contemporaneously, based upon the then-existing exchange rate…

      He provided a few screenshots of his BitPay account showing a couple hundred transactions, most of which were for $5.50 or $8.90. It doesn’t look like bitcoin purchases contributed much to the 200,000 copies of Animal Ambition that eventually sold.

      It isn’t anywhere near the 700 bitcoins reports suggested he’d raked in; considering a bitcoin was worth $657 at the time, the total haul is by my rough estimation probably closer to 6 or 7 of them, a few thousand dollars’ worth.

      Why, then, did he not deny the reports at the time, if he knew they were not true? Later in the same document he explains a well-understood rule of show business:

      As a general matter, so long as a press story is not irreparably damaging to my image or brand, I usually do not feel the need to publicly deny the reporting. This is particularly true when I feel the press report in question is favorable to my image or brand, even if the report is based on a misunderstanding of the facts or contains outright falsehoods.

      When I first became aware of the press reports on this matter, I made social media posts stating that “I forgot I did that” because I had in fact forgotten I was one of the first recording artists to accept bitcoin for online transactions. I did not publicly deny the reports that I held bitcoins because the press coverage was favorable and suggested that I had made millions of dollars as a result of my good business decision to accept bitcoin payments.

      All quite true. It’s hard to say it was not a good decision (being as it was good publicity at the time as well), although in retrospect it might have been wiser to hold onto the coins instead of cashing them in. But with bankruptcy looming, the promise of later riches (which he might simply have to surrender) likely held little temptation for the rapper.

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