Crypto spaces are still unsafe as we see harassment cases emerge at The Bitcoin 2022 conference.
Trigger Warning: Mentions of sexual harassment, cyber harassment, sexual assault and possible stalking
The Bitcoin 2022 conference, hosted by Bitcoin Inc. at The Miami Beach Convention Center in Florida in the U.S. in April, was embroiled in controversy as various cases of harassment emerged from the three-day cryptocurrency event. Several women have come forward with claims of sexual and cyber harassment in the aftermath of the conference.
On April 9, the last day of the conference, a woman attending the conference found her Twitter mentions flooded after someone from the conference posted an unflattering picture of her behind. She makes a living from yield farming and trading cryptocurrencies and has a modest online following. The image had been taken and published without her knowledge or consent. The replies included derogatory remarks about her body and appearance as well as crude bids of a sexual nature. The woman traced back the origin of the malicious tweet to a user called @bitcoin_fuckboi, who she identified as someone she had met and spoken to during the conference. As of the writing of this article, the offending Tweet, among other inflammatory content around the event, is still publicly viewable on the user’s profile.
Rightfully disturbed, she tried to take the aid of the event’s harassment policy only to receive lukewarm, non-committal responses from the organizers. Upon direct messaging the conference’s official Twitter account, she was put in touch with a spokesperson who identified himself as Twitter user @Chairforce. The individual redirected her to the contact form on the event’s official website. She found that the user had also liked several of the tweets that she had labeled as harassment.
On April 10, the Head of Events for BTC Inc, Justin Doochin, replied to the victim’s email regarding the incident. Though he did apologize to her for what she had to face, he did not suggest any follow-up measures. According to the article by Wired, he claimed that “without this person’s name or email, we have no way of identifying them and preventing them from attending future events.” However, the victim pointed out that @bitcoin_fuckboi had posted a number of selfies to his account with prominent Bitcoin personalities during the event, which can indicate who has harassed her. No further actions were taken to rectify the situation.
The CEO of Bitcoin Inc, David Bailey, wrote on Twitter that @Chairforce had been “seriously reprimanded but everyone makes mistakes and I’m not firing them for it.” About the conference itself, he wrote, “26,000 people attended, don’t let a few bad apples color the community.” When asked about how the organization deals with violations of its harassment policy, Bailey declined to reply.
Unfortunately, this was not the only case of harassment to come out of the Miami conference.
One woman claims that a man groped her breasts at a private party while she was attending the conference. Another woman, upon leaving an after-party at the home of a prominent crypto investor, found that someone had slipped an AirTag (a small tracking device) into her bag. She has since left a job in the industry due to the toxicity within the community. Both women were disturbed by the incidents but chose not to report to law enforcement authorities for fear of a backlash in the crypto community or retaliation from their harassers. They have requested that their identities be kept undisclosed.
Two other women spoke about not attending the conference after finding out that Peter Todd, a former Bitcoin developer, would be giving a talk. Todd was accused of sexual misconduct in 2019, although he continues to deny his wrongdoing.
Harassment in the crypto community also extends to those trying to speak up against it. Bitcoin podcaster Tom Maxwell received an onslaught of derogatory slurs, hate comments and even death threats for his tweet about his blog post calling for an end to “rape glorification, misogyny, and sexual harassment” within the Bitcoin community.
Similarly, European lawmakers have been facing unprecedented levels of online harassment as EU institutions move to regulate the crypto industry. Members of the European Parliament, especially women, have been targeted by the predominantly male advocates of cryptocurrencies. Assita Kanko, co-rapporteur of the European Parliament, has received harassment including sexist, racist insults and threats of violence.
The tech space and, by extension, the crypto space have been rife with toxicity towards women in these male-dominated fields. These are not the first incidences of harassment the crypto community has seen, and, sadly, they wouldn’t be the last for quite some time either. It is high time that measures of accountability and protective fail-safes for vulnerable members of the community are put in place and enforced when needed. We hope highlighting these incidents will encourage leaders and players in the crypto space to advocate and demand for a safer environment for all attendees, especially for women who are a minority in this space.
Disclaimer: This article is largely informed by a Wired article published back in May and the email thread that our team was involved in with other media outlet spokespersons regarding this matter. The parties in the email thread have tried to reach out to the victims but, unfortunately, were unable to converse with them for more updates.
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