Bitcoin conference harassment highlights ‘evil’ industry sexism issues

Rachel Siegel was having a great time at the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami last month: swimming in ball pits, going to music shows, and riding a mechanical bull. She’s been in the crypto space for years, and decided to attend the conference – one of the largest gatherings of crypto-professionals and enthusiasts on the East Coast – at the last minute, to see some friends you haven’t visited in a while.

On the last day of the conference, Siegel, who had finally taken to CryptoF on social media, was waiting in line for a bull, she tells me, when a guy had a friendly chat. She and her friends talked to him, the line moved, parted, and she never saw him again. Later, Siegel checked her Twitter notifications and saw that someone with the username @bitcoin_fukboi had taken a picture of her from behind, without her permission and without her knowledge, and tweeted her selfies with the caption “Lol”. A scan of his Twitter feed and selfies he had posted there confirmed to her that it was the same man who spoke to her in line, she told Motherboard.

The tweet gained attention online, and people posted the photo in their own posts, mocking or mocking her physical appearance and downplaying the situation in responses to the conference. She said that as she tried to inform the event organizers about this attendee, she realized that the person who had reported it to her – an employee of BTC Inc. put it down. Someone started spreading rumors based on information you secretly provided to the conference organizers via email while reporting the harassment.

All of this was an effective case study in how harassment can blur the lines between online and offline, and how it can spread out of control if a target tries to defend themselves or themselves.

“I think there is a huge misunderstanding of consent,” Siegel said. “I just think the concept of sexual harassment is wildly misunderstood. Bad things happen in the world, unless you are put at gunpoint, people won’t be inclined to think it’s a real situation… I think women are allowed to have agency in their own bodies. And I think That they should be able to enter a room without stealing that agency.”

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The annual Bitcoin conference, now in its third year, is a spectacle of the cryptocurrency’s rise. More than 25,000 people attended this year, and among the speakers was Wyoming Republican Senator Cynthia Loomis. against vaxxer and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers; Billionaire and right-wing activist Peter Thiel, and Canadian professor (and apparent inspiration in the sinister comic book) Jordan Peterson. Presented by Cash App and organized by BTC Inc. , which also owns Bitcoin Magazine.

The conference has a code of conduct that includes a zero-tolerance policy for harassment, including “offensive verbal comments about personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or religion; intimidation; following or stalking; abusive recording; disruption of conference events; inappropriate physical contact” and inappropriate attention.”

Siegel sent a direct message via the official Twitter account of the Bitcoin conference in the early hours of April 10, after her photo began circulating online, to report that this person was harassing her and violating several conference policies. While texting back and forth with the person behind the official conference account, she noticed that someone who seemed to work at the event liked the tweets she was relaying; When I encountered the @TheBitcoinConf account admin, he confirmed that the activity was coming from his personal account, CHAIRFORCE_BTC, in messages seen by Motherboard.

CHAIRFORCE_BTC did not respond to a request for comment.

At this point, she has tweeted multiple times about the incident and is disappointed with the way the TheBitcoinConf account handled her communication, but has not specifically mentioned anyone. Siegel contacted BTC Inc. In an email, I asked them to consider the DMs between them and the person who controls the TheBitcoinConf account. After I contacted the organizers, someone tweeted She was trying to kick the person running the account.

“Suddenly, all of these big troll accounts are tweeting how I recognized a guy in admin and I’m trying to kick him out,” Siegel told me. As rumors spread, others started making jokes about it, or raising their voice to publicly defend the company as a place that respects women.

On April 10, the day after the bull riding session, attendees tweeted that photo, the head of events for BTC Inc. Justin Doochin on the email to Siegel who reported the incident.

“Hi – I’m the conference organizer, and I apologize for this happening at our event,” Doochin wrote in an email seen by Motherboard. “This is totally unacceptable,” he wrote, referring to @bitcoin_fuckboi, “but without this person’s name or email address, we have no way of identifying them and preventing them from attending future events.” “We will be in touch via Twitter though. Do you know their names?”

While the conference had strict rules against this kind of behavior, it seemed unable to enforce them.

Doochin did not respond to a request for comment.

Between April 10-13, Siegel, her legal advisor and staff at BTC exchanged emails about the situation. Head of Human Resources, Nick Bird, wrote to Siegel on April 13 in an email seen by Motherboard saying that activity on Twitter violated the conference’s code of conduct: “First, let me say I am horrified to hear and see what happened to you at our conference. While our terms state Clearly in the Media Consent and Waiver section that your image and likeness may be captured and returned by one or more media entities or entities, it is totally unacceptable for someone to take and use this media in a way that harasss you and violates our Anti-Harassment Policy and our Code of Conduct. We are very keen to attend and take our terms very seriously. We are meticulously looking into this incident and will take whatever action we can take, consistent with our terms, against this individual should we establish his identity.”

Meanwhile, Siegel’s online harassment was only getting worse. Memes and photos joking about the photo, her status as a professional in the industry, and her body circulated online.

Siegel told me that all of this seriously affected her mental health. “I’m kind of afraid to go out, and I don’t want to be in public. I don’t want people to recognize me, and that affects me in so many ways that the Internet can’t see it clearly and never will,” she said.

On the same day Pierre wrote to Siegel that they take the Code of Conduct very seriously, David Bailey, CEO of BTC Inc. , a thread apparently filled with profanity about the incident said the person who handled the tweet had been “reprimanded”.

“I absolutely hate waking up bullshit but I want to build a community where everyone feels welcome and people aren’t harassed for bullshit they can’t change. Someone on our team shared a stupid tweet from our official account. Very immature and I’m upset about it,” he tweeted. “They get scolded hard but everyone makes mistakes and I don’t fire them for that. Let’s focus on the mission and build the dope community. As much as anyone in our conference is creepy and harassing women because they don’t know how to interact with people, stop being a loser and don’t attend our conferences.” Bitcoin for women[sic] very. 26,000 people attended, don’t let little rotten apples color the community.”

He went on to write that if his relatives were in this situation, he would have reacted differently. He wrote: “My mother, my sisters, my aunts, my wife, my daughters all attend the convention, and the moment someone feels uncomfortable, I will kill a wretched mother.” “I’ve said what I’m going to say about this in public, and now I’m moving on with my life.”

Bailey did not respond to a request for comment.

Much of the harassment targeting Siegel has focused on the fact that she is a woman who posts pictures of herself online. She has worked in the cryptocurrency industry for years, is an early adopter of technology and an investor in cryptocurrency, but as it gains popularity online, its emergence often comes at the expense of its own reputation. Women and female investors are often reduced to “thirst hunters,” with little to offer but selfies and influence — while the mainstream push for women in cryptocurrency has veered to ridiculous pink and swing or expectations that they will solve problems deeply ingrained in the spread of sexism and bigotry. Blindness in most male-dominated technology industries.

“The problem with sexism in the industry is that it is played on every level.”

For many marginalized people, including sex workers who were locked out of traditional financing methods, crypto has been a real lifesaver. People in the adult industry, in particular, have helped popularize the systems involved in accepting and paying cryptocurrencies online. But even with these radical, decentralized dreams, the industry is falling short — in Bitcoin, especially those in the industry, he says.

“Bitcoin is the most male-dominated industry in cryptocurrency, yet Bitcoin is, IMO, the most important asset to identify and use in crypto,” Sarah Satoshi, pseudonymous Bitcoin educator and founder of the non-profit organization Ladies in Bitcoin, tell me. Being “the most decentralized, censorship-resistant and widely accessible financial instrument,” she said, it allows women the financial freedom that other currencies and platforms do not allow.

Have you been sexually discriminated against or harassed at cryptocurrency events or in the industry in general? We love to hear from you. Contact Samantha Cole at samantha.cole@vice.com or the secure messaging app Signal at +1646926 1726.

“However, from the outside, this industry does not have the reputation I just described. It looks cultural, extreme right-wing, sexist and immoral.” “I want to work to change both the perception of this industry as well as the way it currently operates on a social level, because unfortunately, based on my experiences and many others’ experiences, there is some truth in that description.”

artist passes Una And who makes non-fungible tokens and frequently attends in-person events to showcase their performance art tells me that in the crypto industry and the NFT industry as well, sexism is projected front and center, but people are actually reluctant to locate it.

“The problem with sexism in the industry is that it’s played on every level – men don’t make eye contact with women at the same rate in these places, it’s almost as if they’re talking to each other exclusively or interested in women just for their sex appeal,” said Ona. “Womxn in this industry is constantly being reduced to their bodies – it takes a lot to be seen. Men are constantly raising women in space in stages and escaping from it. IRL most of it is “good” sexism. But there is no hiding sexism on the Internet. Online phishing is incredibly evil and counterproductive.”

The idea that people deserve women’s bodies—and that they shouldn’t complain if others take advantage of them—is a pervasive one.

All of the industry professionals I spoke with who support Siegel and denounce online harassment of her have said that the sexism that occurs in cryptocurrency needs to be called out before it improves. It’s hard for them to speak frankly, because the thing that happened to Siegel could happen to anyone.

“We need more people to address this and raise their voice,” Una said. “I think as more women go into space, it’s going to get a little worse — until we start to raise our voice on the problem.”

“I think it’s an important thing, which needs to be recognized in our industry,” Siegel said. “When we look at cryptocurrency, and we look at the access it provides… it is inconceivable that power is weighted and distributed to abusers and people who are not with it.”

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