Coinbase logo on mobile phone

Coinbase exchange actively engaged in censorship

There’s no doubt that censorship is not cool, and the debate around how much power tech companies should have and when it’s appropriate for them to use it is raging.

Tech companies like Twitter have a history of removing accounts for spreading “misinformation” and have even gone as far as to ban a former U.S. president. More recently, Spotify came under fire for continuing to host the Joe Rogan Experience after content some users found offensive went viral on social media sites.

The question about how much power tech companies should have and when it might be appropriate for them to step in is the hot topic online right now. Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN), probably hoping to appear in alignment with the values held by most in the digital assets space, recently released a statement saying it does not agree with censorship by tech companies.

“We think it sets a dangerous precedent when tech companies, such as Coinbase, or their executives start making judgment calls on difficult societal issues, acting as judge and jury,” it said in a blog posted last February 5. 

Letting the market decide and not censoring anything you disagree with is something most in the digital currency industry would approve of. But is Coinbase really so squeaky clean when it comes to this matter?

A brief trip down memory lane

In early 2011, citing that he had moved onto other things, Bitcoin’s inventor Satoshi Nakamoto disappeared from posting forums and ceased to be actively involved publicly in the project.

In December 2015, an Australian computer scientist named Dr. Craig Wright was outed by Wired and Gizmodo magazines as Bitcoin’s inventor. Not long after, Dr. Wright gave an interview to the BBC and confirmed that he was, in fact, Satoshi Nakamoto.

It didn’t take long for it to become apparent that many people in Bitcoin didn’t like Dr. Wright or what he had to say. You see, he’s a law and order kind of guy, one who despises crime and corruption and who wants to see a cleaner, better, more efficient world. He wasn’t shy about telling the ‘crypto bros’ how he felt about the direction they were taking, and it didn’t take long before a massive, organized smear campaign began to try to discredit him.

Attempting to defend himself from allegations of being a fraudster, Dr. Wright sued several people who had been defaming him online. In response, trading platforms like Binance delisted Bitcoin SV, directly contradicting their alleged free-market principles in favor of making a digital currency associated with someone they disagreed with unavailable.

Coinbase went further: it never even listed BSV in the first place. That’s right; the best version of Bitcoin, which is the original as outlined by Satoshi Nakamoto in his white paper, never made it onto the best-known digital currency exchange. Coinbase was only too happy to list numerous worthless altcoins and the criminally-linked stablecoin Tether, but for the simple act of contradicting their narrative and for defending his reputation in court, Dr. Wright and the digital currency associated with him were banished from the largest trading platforms, and BSV was never even acknowledged by Coinbase. 

Isn’t that strange? Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has repeatedly described reading the white paper and having a series of earth-shattering revelations about how Bitcoin would change everything, so he must know BSV lines up with what’s written in it. More recently, Coinbase, along with several other digital currency exchanges, received letters from Dr. Wright’s lawyers warning them of impending legal action over their incorrect use of the Bitcoin brand name. Preferring silence to honest discourse, Coinbase failed to warn its users or its investors about the legal notices.

Save us the pious nonsense, Coinbase

While Coinbase may try to play-act that it’s one of the cool kids, its’ actions show differently. It’s a corporate giant with the bottom line in mind, and when it comes to its’ business interests, it’s just as willing to censor dissenting voices as Twitter and the other big tech companies.

When the history books are written, Coinbase will go down as one of the enemies of Bitcoin. Preferring trading profits over the revolutionary technology its founder claims to have fallen in love with, it will be noted that Coinbase was complicit in silencing Satoshi and suppressing Bitcoin.

Despite what it may say in hypocritical statements posted online, Coinbase is actively involved in censorship. Its users, who may fall for these deceptive statements, should be aware of this before choosing to do business with them.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—a from BitMEX to BinanceBitcoin.comBlockstreamShapeShiftCoinbaseRipple, Ethereum, FTX and Tether—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.