Most of price manipulation in cryptocurrencies used to be the pumps where a project's proponents promote a coin with an intention of boosting its face value and then selling at a higher price to profit; or the dumps where a project or its proponents would spread FUD with calculated intention of having its prices go down in order to buy at a lower price and enter positions.
Most of the pumps and dumps were limited to individual coins because prices usually relate to the perceived present, future or past value of a cryptocurrency. In some cases, it relates to other competing projects. And while pumps and dumps are still evident, there seems to be an increase in negativity in the recent past, targeted at hurting the entire cryptocurrency industry, which has had a lot of impact in depressing the markets in the better part of this year beyond the ordinary market forces of supply and demand, etc. Whether you are talking about directed chats on cryptocurrency chatting platforms or general comments from regulators/leaders and financial luminaries, much of the motive is well calculated.
Paid groups, individuals and chatbots
CEO of Bitcoin.com and early BTC investor Roger Ver who was a huge supporter of Bitcoin before turning to create Bitcoin Cash late last year after sharp disagreements that still manifests in the two cryptocurrencies, recently alluded to that fact when he talked about social media in relation to cryptocurrencies and mentioned the recent 50 Cent Party, and how it interacts with cryptocurrency.
The group, according to Ver, was started and is still controlled by Chinese authorities and is as old as the Internet, and does act to manipulate what the public believes in order to align to authorities' interests.
In other words, the authorities use the group to manipulate the public or industry in terms of what they want the industry to think about. And it is not about the crypto industry alone -- almost every other industry. And it is not this group alone, but obviously, are several others in this or other jurisdictions.
According to him, there is a connection to the above group's undertaking with what is happening in the cryptocurrency community, and that could mean from influencing crypto community interests to influencing prices with authorities' interests in mind. Ver indicated that it is possible most of the influences are also being executed by chatbots. Such influences are being seen through the flooding of cryptocurrency community forums and platforms with negative comments daily within intentions to influence not just individual projects or coins but the entire markets through the creation of narratives.
Ver connected this to what was happening in June 2011 when Bitcointalk.org was flooded with comments about the varied price and a lot of discussions came to be just "a bunch of nonsense and fluff and it wasn’t even usable at all at that point." He said it is happening not just to Bitcoin Cash but also to other cryptocurrency communities and forums as well. He said the comments appear to be coming from people who are being paid otherwise anyone with real knowledge of Bitcoin would know better.
He particularly said that there are currently spirited motives based on propaganda, fallacy, and falsehood, unwilling to engage facts of opinion they do not align with, and with motives to influence or crash prices and projects in the cryptocurrency industry. He was calling the community to the attention of such. Not only have they infiltrated projects such as Bitcoin but are also all over the internet and industry with the manipulation, influencing state censorship and all that. Worst, they are not ready to learn the facts but just troll.
Manipulation of public opinion over social media platforms is a huge problem with Oxford Internet Institute (OII) at Oxford University warns that computational propaganda is growing at a large scale. Some of it is economically motivated. OII said that on overall the "use of organized social media manipulation campaigns is big business." Majority of these manipulations according to OII are politically manipulated and spread disinformation and junk news using bots, news sites, blogs, and disinformation to polarize and manipulate voters." Online commentators and fake accounts are used to spread pro-party messages.
Ver mentioned CEO of Blockstream Adam Back who said in December last year that some people "create so much false narrative and FUD, and confusion that's it's a large team full-time job to debunk and disprove!"
Financial luminaries and people with a sharp opinion about cryptocurrency
Apart from influences through calculated attacks coming through from within cryptocurrency forums and platforms, there have been very sharp opinions and "battles" from financial luminaries and people with a sharp and negative opinion about cryptocurrencies in general, all who seem to try and manipulate debates. And while everyone has their opinion about cryptocurrencies, and right to it, these seem to troll or manipulate debates with calculation to bring down prices and/projects. One explanation is the need to preserve legacy systems but another is of political/power in nature. Sometimes such calculated influence is made through political leaders with a cover for regulation and although most cryptocurrency projects have said they are open to regulation, such comments are meant to directly and negatively affect prices.
For instance, while many economists have openly expressed their support or lack of support for cryptocurrencies, economist Nouriel Roubini has been more vocal. The guy, who has worked on cryptography for the CIA, dismissed the debate on decentralization on May 2. He has been referred to as “Dr. Doom” for his canny prediction of the 2008 Financial crisis although he says he is "just an academic that speaks his mind." Earlier this year, he said digital coins are not a store of value, and face scalability issues in comparison with centrally intermediate systems.
The New York-based economist this week said that 90 percent of cryptocurrencies are worth zero, testified at the Congressional hearing on Capitol Hill on October 11 in Washington D.C. warning U.S. senators about crypto as “the mother or father of all scams and bubbles", has said Ethereum is a scam during BlockShow Americas in Las Vegas and said that 81 percent of all ICOs were a scam to start with.
Then the anti-government, anti-regulation feel
Robert Shiller, who won a Nobel for his work on bubbles currency said that cryptocurrency appeals to some investors because it has an "anti-government, anti-regulation feel." That "feel" may have sparked a lot of spirited wars in itself. The same notion has led to the assumptions that "all" cryptocurrencies are mostly used by criminals online and thus the unfair categorization and targeting. Given their limited nature, not so much of fraud value -- being way below only $2 compared to banking industry's 100's of billions of dollars in fraud each year.
And while the "anti-government, anti-regulation" notion relates to the history of cryptocurrencies, a lot of cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects now not only have procedures to check out anti-money laundering and fraud and most are self-regulating to that end, in addition to increased openness to regulation.