The Dark Side of Jack Dorsey’s Bitcoin Push on Joe Rogan

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey set the internet alight during his recent interview on the Joe Rogan Experience, when he boldly stated that Bitcoin could become the native currency of the internet.

Dorsey’s words must have been music to the ears of most Bitcoin and cryptocurrency enthusiasts – with the exception of Roger Ver and the outcasts of 2017.

However, Dorsey’s role as a multi-billionaire CEO likely doesn’t allow for a day off, and there’s every reason to believe that his Bitcoin push was at least partly motivated by financial self-interest.

Meanwhile, the episode was one of the most downvoted videos ever uploaded to YouTube by JRE, as commenters took issue with Rogan’s failure to take Dorsey to task over recent instances of censorship on Twitter.

Sponsorship

The Cash App by Square is listed among the many sponsors of the Joe Rogan podcast, and Dorsey’s appearance – coupled with the perception that Rogan ‘went easy on him’ – prompted increased scrutiny of that business relationship.

General hearsay suggests the Cash mobile app is one of the largest sponsors of the podcast, and that’s a very real possibility given the price of advertising real-estate in the cryptocurrency and finance space in general.

Unconfirmed speculation suggests it costs Square $300,000 per month to advertise its app on JRE – just over $3.5 million per year. Skeptics say this explains Rogan’s reluctance to ask Dorsey any hard questions relating to political censorship.

In a version of what could have been an SEC enforcer’s wet-dream, we have the CEO of a Bitcoin-specific payment app talking up the potential of Bitcoin, on a podcast which he also pays  to advertise said payment app. I’m sure Dorsey was smart enough to be careful with his words, but the lines here must be thin.

Also, the money involved in the Cash app – the most downloaded payment app of all time – could also be at the heart of another reason behind Dorsey’s glowing appraisal of Bitcoin’s internet-wide future…

Dorsey is Invested in Bitcoin

When asked if the app would see the addition of any other cryptocurrencies in the near future, Dorsey’s answer was unequivocally in the negative. Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency that will appear on Cash according to Dorsey, and this surely hints to another possible conflict of interest given his investment in Lightning Labs.

Lightning Labs is a development group working along with Blockstream on implementations of the Lighting Network protocol on Bitcoin. Dorsey contributed to Lightning Labs’ development fund, along with LTC creator Charlie Lee, and will now have a vested interest in making sure the current incarnation of Bitcoin succeeds.

Dorsey’s big justification for Bitcoin becoming the internet currency of the future was that it ‘has been tested’, and that it has certain ‘principles’ behind it. Just what those principles are is unclear, since the modus operandi of BTC has changed dramatically in the last couple of years.

Meanwhile, the notion that it has been successfully tested falls apart upon consideration of the huge rift in the community that occurred in 2017, which culminated in the departure of a significant chunk of the community and the birth of Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

If Bitcoin has been so successfully tested, then why was there such a big push by Blockstream and Lightning Labs to move transactions off-chain?

To answer, the CEO of Blockstream Adam Back has openly admitted his intention to sell sidechain services, and charge transaction fees for off-chain payments conducted in BTC.

A huge factor behind the Cash app’s rise to prominence was its Bitcoin-friendly nature. Amid the tangled web of vested financial interests described above, are we really to believe that Dorsey is so bullish on Bitcoin solely for the reasons he states?

Censorship

Although currently perceived as a talking point of the right wing, the furore which surrounds the banning spree conducted by Twitter and other giants is an issue that cuts in every direction.

Dorsey’s JRE interview has a downvote to upvote ratio of nearly 7:1 – or 61k downvotes compared to 9k upvotes. The source of the one-click protest conducted by sixty-one thousand people appears to have been Rogan’s reluctance to pose Dorsey any hard questions relating to corporate censorship.

Bear in mind that the reason there are two major Bitcoin subreddits (r/bitcoin and r/btc) is in large part due to rampant censorship on r/bitcoin, which lead unwanted critics of Bitcoin’s new direction (referred to as Bitcoin core) to find a home on r/btc.

Criticism of the Bitcoin core narrative was being censored on Reddit long before the hammer fell on the likes of Alex Jones. Dorsey’s vision of a future Bitcoin-dominated internet doesn’t address this point; and it’s a point that only seems more scandalous in light of Twitter’s similar predilection for censoring those who deviate from accepted scripts.

In light of the podcast’s overwhelmingly negative reception, Joe Rogan has already announced that Dorsey will return for a second interview, with Rogan vowing to pose the CEO a tougher set of questions relating to censorship on Twitter.

Alex Jones Goes Nuts

The man with most reason to hate Jack Dorsey is probably Infowars’ Alex Jones. Jones has found himself banned from multiple internet and financial services in recent months, and he found time on his radio show to go on a vampire-laden rant directed against Dorsey and Rogan.

Jones has found himself shunned from the Joe Rogan podcast as well as Twitter, Facebook, PayPal and more. But an irascible Jones fought back:

“We’re not mad at them [people like Jack Dorsey] because we’re not in their banquet… We don’t want to be part of their banquet.”

That’s tough talk from Jones, who by now must surely be feeling the pinch of having multiple branding, broadcasting and advertising streams cut from his Infowars juggernaut. His thoughts on that matter might change, however, as Joe Rogan suggested via Instagram that Dorsey had hinted there may be a possible way back into the fray for those Twitter had previously shut down, including Jones.

If that means that Alex Jones will be asked to bow and kiss Dorsey’s metaphorical ring, then at least we’ll have some fireworks to look forward to. In the meantime, let’s not get too excited at the vague prospect of an internet dominated by Jack Dorsey investment vehicles, regulated by Twitter and Reddit moderators.

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Author:
Greg Thomson is a freelance writer who contributes to leading cryptocurrency and blockchain publications like CCN, Hacked, and others.

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