Preston Byrne, a columnist for CoinDesk’s Opinion section, is a partner in Anderson Kill’s Technology, Media and Distributed Systems Group. He advises software, internet and fintech companies. His biweekly column, “Not Legal Advice,” is a roundup of pertinent legal topics in the crypto space. It is most definitely not legal advice.
Among the libertarians, I am something of an odd duck in that I am not a journalist, yet I have a blue check mark.
I am proud of my blue check mark. I’m not sure how I got it. Back in the day, Twitter had a form you could fill in with links to press coverage if you wanted a blue check mark. I did so. One day, months later, a lot of my friends and I in fintech and Crypto Twitter suddenly had blue check marks next to our names.
It was great.
Who was responsible for granting it to me, I do not know. I thank that person, because the day I got that blue check mark ranks right up there with the day I got married or the birth of my firstborn. (Except, I am not married and have no children; it is possible that this state of affairs relates to the inordinate amount of time I spend on Twitter.) If it is related, it was worth it. But apart from that, there are normally few if any downsides.
Few, that is, until the Great Blue Checkmark Blackout the other day. For those of you living under a rock, Twitter – or, more probably, an employee of Twitter – had his or her employee login hacked (or deliberately sold) the other day. Following this, a number of well-followed accounts – Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, to name a few – posted a promise that if Twitter users would send bitcoin to a particular address, the users would get double that amount sent back to them in return.
Twitter immediately locked down all of the blue check marks while it responded to the incident. There was much rejoicing.
Usually, this scam is carried out by seizing control of the account of a lesser blue check who uses SMS two-factor authentication that points to an actual phone (rather than Google Voice). The lesser blue check gets SIM swapped, following which the attacker changes the user’s profile and display name to that of a famous person (e.g. Elon Musk) and then posts the “send me Bitcoin!” tweet. The famous person’s , seeing the “verified” badge and the display name (but not the lesser blue check’s less prominent user handle), promptly comply.