As previously covered by Protos, several senior journalists at the New York Times (NYT) published a critique of Bitcoin’s proof-of-work (PoW) consensus. Unfortunately, according to some, the article contained a number of factual and rhetorical errors, and within hours, it was ratioed on Twitter with more likes for a comment pointing out these mistakes than NYT’s original tweet.
The argument is that hashpower secures Bitcoin’s $550 billion financial system. And like any financial system — whether it’s used on military-protected trade routes, banking conglomerates, or data center-intensive payment technologies — electricity use is unavoidable.
Bitcoin miners procure and pay for electricity in global markets. And like any electricity consumer, they may use their purchase for any legal activity: clothes dryers, holiday lights, water fountains, or Bitcoin mining. They pay for electricity and use it.
If this is the case, the NYT’s article has presented its critics with a gaping open goal. Indeed, rather than persuading people that Bitcoin’s mining is nothing more than wasteful pollution, it has been countered by a viral #StopThePresses social media campaign demanding that the NYT cease its wasteful printing of newspapers.
The troll is sublime
The Times relies heavily on its physical newspaper subscriptions, mostly from older readers. It’s argued by some that these subscribers prefer to burn trees, use ink, and give a pass to vast carbon-emitting delivery operations rather than read the news on their phone, tablet, or computer.
And the argument is finding support. Prior to the NYT’s critique of an industry it disapproves of, nobody was demanding that it cease printing newspapers. Indeed, it’s broadly accepted that consumers have a reasonable right to pay for printed newspapers in the same way that Bitcoiners have the right to use electricity to secure the world’s largest decentralized blockchain.
Unfortunately, the blue touch paper has now been lit and the backlash over the NYT’s anti-Bitcoin mining stance is in full swing across social media. Hashtags like #StopThePresses on Twitter are providing a highly visible home for the onslaught of anti-NYT memes.