Why Twitter’s KYC’ed Bitcoin tips are dangerous and what KYC-free alternatives you can use

Tags: #twitter #privacy #bitcoin #webmonetization #kyc

Update: After this article was published, Twitter launched its Lightning tips feature, which requires government ID to use. In addition, Brave Browser, Odysee and Write.as require government ID in order to withdraw tips. This is problematic, as it excludes people who don't have government ID or who need pseudonymity (such as activists, but also writers, musicians and artists), and is a more severe invasion of privacy than regular ads.

“BREAKING: Twitter is now beta testing a #Bitcoin lightning tipping service” https://twitter.com/BitcoinMagazine/status/1433032351777492992

Looks like Twitter plans to enable Bitcoin Lightning tips, but only via Strike’s KYC wallet.

Strike Wallet unfairly excludes people without government ID, who are already shut out of banking, Paypal and Western Union, while the state is phasing out cash. These people need financial inclusion the most, and by refusing to serve people without ID, Strike continues to push vulnerable people out of the economy.

Strike also endangers people who would be at risk in real life if their Twitter pseudonym is connected to government ID, such as journalists, activists, artists and people who simply want privacy (for example, they don’t want their employer to find their tweets).

Additionally, Strike is creating a KYC’ed surveillance database of Twitter users with their full names and photos (who decided to exchange their privacy and possibly freedom of speech for a few cents of co-opted KYC’ed Lightning tips).

When Facebook started to arbitrarily ban accounts and demand government ID to login or delete them, people found this wrong and invasive. But these same people are happy to send Twitter their ID (with their full name, photo, birth date and home address) for a chance to maybe get a few cents in tips.

Example: If a libertarian Twitter user wants to earn some donations for their tweets, built-in Lightning tips via Strike may seem easy and convenient. However, if Twitter later decides to cancel them (or worse, if the state sends a warrant or the KYC database is hacked, etc.), they could be in real danger. Due to Strike’s KYC, the libertarian blogger isn’t just an anonymous pseudonym over VPN anymore, but rather Strike (=Twitter) has their full name, photo, home address and SSN. This could endanger them to doxxing and real life violence from people who disagree with their tweets or attacks from the state. All for a few cents in tips…

Users who want to enjoy freedom of speech without compromising their safety should avoid Strike, use a pseudonym over VPN/Tor, and use a KYC-free donation platform like Cointr.ee.

Bitcoin is KYC-free by default. Satoshi intended Bitcoin to be permissionless pseudonymous peer-to-peer money, which exists outside of banks, corporations and the state. The Bitcoin network doesn’t require government ID or state permission — a pseudonymous randomly generated private key is enough to send and receive money.

KYC is just an artificial unnecessary and new (since 2018) Layer 2 that exists to financially exclude people without ID and surveil and endanger people who do have ID.

Bitcoin worked fine without KYC from 2008–2018 and KYC-free platforms continue to work well today.

Don’t use Strike. If you want Bitcoin tips on Twitter, just add your Bitcoin address in your bio, make a Cointr.ee page, use Tippin.me, get a paynym at Paynym.is, or many other options — KYC-free, privacy-friendly and accessible for everyone.