A Rant About Coinbase ‘Media’ and Coinbase ‘Fact’ ‘Checking’

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Protos reported that Coinbase was aggressively looking for a ‘top media editor’. It clearly seems intended for Coinbase to build up a content marketing team that will help them manage their own image.


Now I can hear your objections already, that perhaps I am being too harsh on Coinbase. Perhaps they truly intend to build out a world class newsroom and act responsibly as a journalistic entity. Then you read a little bit further and realize that this ‘top media editor’ is going to answer directly to the marketing team.

Coinbase has no desire to participate in anything resembling modern journalism. The closest thing they will be modeling is the ‘Party Papers’ of yore. For those unfamiliar, in the late 18th and early 19th century many printing presses were directly funded by political parties. They would generally only publish news that directly benefited that party, or at the very least could be spun in a manner beneficial to the party. The modern ‘content marking’ apparatuses like the one that Coinbase seems determined to build out echo that same goal: to control the printing presses thanks to the power of money.

Perhaps even more troubling to me than the gradual corruption of the idea of ‘journalism’ is Coinbase’s new announcement that they are moving into ‘fact-checking’. The idea of an entity who is willing to have 100* as much fake volume as real volume on a pair for the trading platform an entity who people think should have any role in fact checking? THEY CAN’T EVEN KEEP TRACK OF THEIR OWN TRADING BOTS! The idea that Coinbase is going to serve any useful as a fact checker is naive.

So why is Coinbase starting a media operation and ‘fact checking’? Because they don’t need to try to pursue the truth, they need to provide cover to others. If the ‘news’ and ‘media’ people are consuming about cryptocurrency are created by an entity who directly benefits from people trading cryptocurrency, then they are likely going to be written in a way that incentivizes investment and trading in cryptocurrency. If those individuals start to have doubts about the industry or the ‘news’, well that can be easily solved as well. If you have a fact check that seems to cast a shadow of doubt then your consumers can more easily move past questions and doubts.

Bitfinex and other companies have attempted to do similar narrative control, but by using bots and sockpuppets, but Coinbase realized they can have an outsized influence if their work appears more ‘legitimate’. I hope they are unsuccessful.

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