How One False Viral Tweet Cost Bitcoin Investors $84 Million in Minutes

A viral tweet caused a huge price movement that burned investors. It was false.
How One False Tweet Cost Bitcoin Investors $84 Million in Minutes
Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc via Getty Images

On Monday, a post on X from cryptocurrency news outlet Cointelegraph elated investors: regulators had approved major asset manager BlackRock’s Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), an investment product that tracks the price of the original crypto token. 

Cointelegraph has nearly 2 million followers on X. The price of Bitcoin instantly spiked by 7 percent to $30,000 after its post went live. Investors who had shorted the price—essentially, betting it would go down instead of up—were liquidated to the tune of $84 million across numerous exchanges, according to data from trading analytics platform CoinGlass. There was just one problem: The post was false. 


Within 20 minutes of the post going up at 9:24 a.m., BlackRock clarified to reporters that its ETF was still under review by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The price of Bitcoin plummeted back down. Roughly 30 minutes after the post went live, Cointelegraph deleted it. An hour after the initial tweet was posted, the outlet posted an apology

The SEC even appeared to issue a statement, although it did not mention Bitcoin or the ETF by name. “Careful what you read on the internet. The best source of information about the SEC is the SEC,” the regulator posted on X. Motherboard reached out to confirm if the post was related to the ETF fiasco, but has not received a response. 

Cointelegraph published a postmortem of the incident on Monday. The outlet explained that the supposed news was initially pulled from a since-deleted Telegram channel and posted by an employee “in an effort to publish the developments as soon as possible.” The outlet said that this violated its social media policies, which require editorial approval before posting.

“This incident reminds the Cointelegraph team that our actions have serious ramifications across the cryptocurrency community,” the outlet stated. “We are committed to learning from these mistakes and adhering to the highest standards of journalism.”

The whole event took place in the space of minutes, illustrating the notoriously volatile nature of crypto investing and just how quickly misinformation can spread online and cost people massive sums of money.