When journalism meets sensationalism

Have you ever heard of Bitcoin ?

It’s a digital currency created in 2009 by either man or group -nobody knows- akaed “Satoshi Nakamoto”. This man-group’s real identity is still unknown, but there have been some studies trying to determine who he was. There are some -more or less- serious theories, but none of it could be proven. Among those, someone wondered if this name was a reference to SAmsung TOSHIba NAKAmichi MOTOrola, the top four tech companies. But in March 2014, the American weekly news magazine Newsweek claimed it had discovered “the face behind Bitcoin”.
His name ? Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto,

Dorian Nakamoto was trained as a physicist, but worked as a systems engineer on classified defense projects and as a computer engineer for technology and financial information services companies. Journalist Leah McGrath Goodman conducted a very thorough investigation. She studied his life, interviewed him, his family, his friends. But truth is, her theory relies on two (very arguable) main things :
-Mr. Nakamoto turned libertarian in the early 90s
-During an interview, he was asked a question about Bitcoin and replied : “I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it.
It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.”
BUT, later in the same interview he said that he had misunderstood the question, and he had never heard about Bitoin before.

Here is an interesting fact : the day the article was published, Nakamoto’s pseudonymous P2P Fundation came out of its 5-years silence by posting “I am not Dorian Nakamoto.”

As you can see, this was almost nothing. However, the article was very oriented, and presented Dorian Nakamoto not as Bitcoin’s likely inventor, but as THE true Bitcoin’s inventor. But there were no facts, only hypothesis over hypothesis. This article was disturbing, but harmless. What was harmful was the media frenzy engendered. Right after, Mr. Nakamoto’s life became a true ordeal. There were reporters camping outside his home, he would be followed by cars while on his way to interviews. His private relations became very complicated.




The most surprising is that Newsweek defends its theory, despite the numerous flaws in the article, and the proofs presented. These are, to my mind, the biggest incoherences :

-Judging by his work, Satoshi Nakamoto is very smart. He has a deep understanding about security, the connected world, networks, internet and its dangers, etc…
He has also a deep knowledge about the latest cryptographic processes, and he is way better than the average coder. According to Newsweek, someone like this is likely to put his real name carelessly while developing a world-size project based on anonymity.
Because the starting point of their investigation relies on a list of people all named “Satoshi Nakamoto”.

-Satoshi Nakamoto is very rich. The exact amount of money he has is unknown, but so far, every study has agreed that he earned millions of dollars in bitcoins.
Dorian Nakamoto lives in a modest house. As he’s unemployed, he strives to take care of basic needs for himself and his 93-year-old mother.

Some people got moved by his story, and a fundraising campaign was set up. Overall, it raised about $23,000 to help Dorian. However, a few weeks ago, Mr.Nakamoto took the initiative of starting another fundraising campaign. He wants to use the money collected to sue Newsweek for their article.

To be followed…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *