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Bitcoin Blacklisted: Why You Should Ditch Medium.com

DISCLAIMER: None of the following is intended to be investment advice. Also, full disclosure, any links to Coinbase and Binance, etc…

Bitcoin Blacklisted: Why You Should Ditch Medium.com

DISCLAIMER: None of the following is intended to be investment advice. Also, full disclosure, any links to Coinbase and Binance, etc., include referrals. It actually benefits you to use them because we will both get an extra $10 worth of BTC for free if you deposit at least $100 to Coinbase. Thanks in advance if you follow the links when you make your accounts — and even if you don’t, I hope you find this article interesting!

Imagine you are a cryptocurrency enthusiast. If you’re reading my content, this shouldn’t be too hard.

Imagine that you write about your knowledge in an attempt to educate people and further cryptocurrency adoption. Imagine that you’ve acquired a small following of clever, motivated people who are interested in your work.

Now, imagine that all of this is erased from the internet in an instant simply because you chose to host your content on a site that is — surprise! — hostile to cryptocurrency.

I don’t have to imagine any of this, because it happened to me. On May 1st, 2018, I received a message in my inbox which told me that various links to my articles were “broken.” I quickly looked at my blog on Medium.com and was nonplussed — everything was showing up just fine. However, I had heard of Medium banning cryptocurrency writers for frivolous reasons — for example, Jarunik, a popular Ark delegate, had run into this sort of problem a few weeks before. Acting on a hunch, I logged out and navigated back to my Medium account. A heavy lump formed in my stomach as I was greeted with this:

Instead of my blog’s URL, I had been redirected to https://medium.com/suspended. The behavior has since changed — it now purports to be a “404 not found” page — but the explanation is and was obvious. I had been shadowbanned.

What is a shadowban and why is it a deplorable practice?

Shadowbanning is a technique to deal with spammers. The basic idea is that you track a person’s identity somehow — usually using which account they are logged in with, but sometimes an IP address is used — and make it look like their posts are showing up properly. To everyone else, however, your posts are simply gone. Everything you’ve ever posted simply goes down the memory hole, Soviet Union style. This is a pretty useful technique if you’re trying to deal with a disruptive or malicious spammer, but when used against regular people it becomes a pernicious tool of censorship.

Shadowbanning has become all too common in the modern day internet. All the major companies practice some form of it — Twitter, Facebook, and apparently Medium. It’s a particularly insidious practice when used against people who aren’t too tech-savvy, because they might not realize they’ve been silenced for a long while. Indeed, that’s the whole point! Even the tech-savvy ones might be fooled for awhile. I wonder how long I would have been in the dark if one of my readers hadn’t pointed out that the article links were “dead.”

As soon I figured out what was going on, I sent the following message to Medium:

My account seems to be shadowbanned. I didn’t even receive an email about it. This is extremely unprofessional — I have no idea why other people are seeing my account as unavailable, and I was only made aware because one of my readers told me. Fix this.

Harshly worded? Sure, a little. I had a lot of very legitimate reasons to be annoyed about this — I’ll get into those in a moment. But, the long story short is that it was hilariously unprofessional for them to quietly blacklist my content without notifying me, let alone warning me in advance so I could have a chance to resolve the problem. I received the following email back from them about half an hour later:

Hello,
Your Medium account is in violation of our policies and has been suspended.
Please review our policy for crypto accounts and posts on Medium.
To restore your account, we require that you bring your account into compliance with these rules, as well as our general site rules.
If you have a Membership with us, you can continue to read member-only content while your account is in a suspended state.
Thanks,
Medium Trust and Safety

Ah yes, “trust and safety.” What a pleasant sounding name — I’m feeling safer already. So, reading this email, I’m noticing two things: first, cryptocurrency writers are held to a much higher standard than others. Secondly, they didn’t give me any useful information. I’m supposed to read the entire terms of service and guess at what they think the issue is? Yeah, no thanks. While I do have some guesses as to what the issue might be, I have better things to be doing than playing the Evan Williams edition of “whack-a-mole” with a blindfold on. That’s effort I could be putting into hosting my content on a platform that treats its users with more respect. I sent them the following request for clarification a few minutes later:

I’ve read that page and it doesn’t seem to apply to me. I’m not a company announcing an ICO or token. I write about my own investments and I write technical information about how to safely use cryptocurrencies.
Please be more specific as to what policies you think I’ve violated. Otherwise I have no idea how I can bring my account “into compliance with the rules.”

At the time of this writing, their cryptocurrency terms of service only has two sections. One is marked “for consumers” and seems to be directed towards readers. The other is marked “for companies announcing ICOs, coins or tokens,” which I am not. It’s possible that Medium is just ignorant about cryptocurrency and didn’t bother to check on what my content was about before throwing down the ban hammer, but that doesn’t reflect well on them either.

It’s now May 12th, 2018 — eleven days later. I have not received a response to this request for clarification. Considering how quickly they responded to the first email, I can only assume that they are just ignoring me. So, the takeaway is this: if you write for Medium, your content could get removed from the Internet at any moment and they absolutely will not make a good effort to resolve the problem or clarify anything in a timely fashion. Does that sound fun to you? I didn’t think so. Since they seem to be targeting Bitcoin and cryptocurrency enthusiasts, those people should doubly beware of putting their content on this site.

Why does Medium’s mistreatment of its customers matter so much?

If you’re not a content creator, it may — at first glance — seem like I’m making too big of a deal out of this. However, imagine all the side effects of having every single piece of content you’ve created go “dead” simultaneously. Any SEO I built up on search engines like Google plummeted to nothing. Google my articles, and you either come up with nothing or links which lead to dead links. If anyone previously shared my content on a platform like Facebook, for example, they’re now greeted with a 404 when they attempt to click through.

Wow, it would be nice if budding Aeron enthusiasts could get to my article. Thanks, Medium!

The bottom line is that Medium’s completely unannounced shadowban worked to effectively eliminate most of my web presence in an instant. Were they within their rights to do this? Certainly — they can have whatever terms of service they want and enforce them in whatever way they please. However, just because it’s within their rights doesn’t make it right. The right thing to do would have been to notify me of whatever specific thing they wanted me to change and give me 48 hours to either do that or get my content hosted somewhere else. Instead, this is what they gave me:

Right in my face.

So, why am I writing this?

It’s not just because I’m annoyed. When this sort of thing happens, it’s often best to just shrug your shoulders and soldier on towards a viable solution. However, I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. The true irony here is that I was actually considering purchasing a paid membership with Medium, but now I’d rather get punched in the face than support these people. A company like Medium thrives on its userbase — after all, they’re the ones writing all of their content. I want to make sure those writers are aware of how quickly the rug can be pulled out from under them for some completely frivolous reason, or perhaps no reason at all. The bottom line is this: if you’re a fan of cryptocurrency — or of websites who treat their users well — I’d suggest you steer well clear of Medium.com.

It bears pointing out that I was not just some random user of Medium. I posted enough well-liked content and accrued enough followers that the site considered me one of the “Top writers” in the Investing category and, for a time, Bitcoin as well. I’m not suggesting this arbitrary categorization actually matters, or that I have some kind of big head about it — honest! — but it’s worth mentioning. Why? Because Medium’s own metrics apparently identified me as one of the site’s most valuable contributors. If they’ll abruptly shadowban my account without even bothering to let me know, how do you think they’re going to treat people who use the platform more casually? Well, I can’t imagine it could be worse!

The light at the end of the tunnel

Before I continue, it would be remiss not to point this out: I do take ownership of the fact that I should have had my own site up long before now. I knew it was a possibility that Medium would close my account for no reason — this is a risk you take when you trust any site with your content. Certainly, I had hopes that, if such a thing occurred, it would happen in a less heinous way — but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have been more ready.

However, if you’re reading this now, it means you’ve found your way to my new home: Rose Crypto. I like this name because, in addition to referencing my pen name, the word “rose” itself has so many meanings. This site “rose” from the ashes of my Medium blog. We all hope that the price of our favorite coins and tokens “rises.” And, as you might guess from the rose-petal iconography on the site, every “rose” has its thorn — which is to say that you must be wary of the risks when investing in cryptocurrency.

This Patreon post references what I’ve been up to since I registered the domain on May 2nd, but suffice to say it’s been a flurry of activity. The site was built from scratch — I’m lucky enough to know all about full stack programming, so it was unnecessary for me to use WordPress or any kind of site builder.

I could get more into the technicalities of what’s been done with the website so far, but this article is already running a little long. I might cover some of this in the future if there is interest; what’s important, however, is that things are getting done. In fact, I’m having a lot of fun with this! It’s important to focus on the positive side of things if you want to remain productive. Sure, Medium killed my account, but in a way, this was the motivation I needed to create my own site and get moving on creating more content. I have big plans, such as:

  • A comments section, ideally hooked in with social media
  • A cryptocurrency podcast
  • A store where I will sell crypto-related swag
  • Useful crypto software, e.g., tax assistance software

Rosecrypto will be the home for all of this and more! As of May 10th, 2018, I’ve committed to weekly updates on progress, so watch this space on Thursdays if you’d like to keep abreast of what’s going on. Oh, and one more thing: if you want to let Medium know what you think about the way they treat their customers, be my guest.

Before you go…

Know of any other hot-button issues with cryptocurrencies? Want me to write about them? Let me know! I love to hear feedback from people and get ideas on what cryptocurrency topics I should research. You never know, I might even write an article about your suggestion!

If you’re new to cryptocurrencies, don’t worry — it’s easy to get in on this! Here are the basic steps if you’re interested in Bitcoin or altcoins:

  1. Buy some Bitcoin or Ethereum from Coinbase.
  2. Trade them for altcoins on Binance, KuCoin, HitBTC, or Changelly. Out of these, Binance is my preferred exchange. Skip this step if you’re uninterested in altcoins, of course!
  3. If feasible, store your coins offline in a wallet for security purposes. Use an inexpensive Android phone with the Coinomi wallet app, or go ultra secure with a hardware wallet like the Ledger Nano S or Trezor.

If you’re looking for a more lengthy guide to purchasing coins from start to finish, just take a look at my page — I’ve written a lot about this! Any of my instructional altcoin articles (such as this one) will first explain in detail how to get Bitcoin if that’s all you want.

Come back soon because more content like this is always coming! If my work helped you or gave you something to think about, share it with others:

Sharing helps more people find my articles, and I’d love to be able to assist as many people as possible with cryptocurrencies. Also, if you have any ideas for future articles or specific questions, I’d love to hear them. Comments section coming soon! One last thing: if you’d like to chat with me in real time, check out my Patreon - I am running a public Discord for the discussion of cryptocurrency, and if you subscribe to my Patreon you can get a special role there!

Happy trading,
Malcolm Rose

Posted: May 13, 2018

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