While there are a lot of experienced crypto users and enthusiasts out there, there is a constant influx of newcomers to the cryptosphere and latest Waltonchain Twitter incident is a good example of a seemingly legit project, just plain shilling and pumping their project with fake contests and promotions, right? I’d like to make an observation from another perspective. Since the incident, I dug into this a little deeper to find out what really happened. I tried reaching out to Waltonchain Team via twitter, I joined their Telegram channel, tried to get in touch with admins there and I tried to get in touch with Waltonchain “Knights” – that’s how they call their western representatives.
Over the years we’ve witnessed hacks, exit scams and unethical behavior of all sorts within the unregulated “wild wild west” of cryptocurrency, or just “crypto” for short. The other day, the internet-of-things blockchain called “Waltonchain” was caught in a pretty ugly controversy surrounding its Valentine’s Day campaign.
A week before Valentine’s Day, the official Medium account of Waltonchain announced a campaign offering followers a chance to win Walton Coins. Anyone who wanted to participate had to follow @waltonchain, retweet the campaign tweet, add a #WaltonchainLove tag in the comments and tag someone.
Congratulations, Waltonchain Employee!
On February 28, the official twitter account of Waltonchain posted a list of winners of the campaign:
*Please guard against scams accounts asking for tokens.https://t.co/CLbMtDhZwI
— Waltonchain (@Waltonchain) February 28, 2018
Moments later, one of Waltonchain employees tweeted that he was one of the winners of the campaign. And here’s where the controversy starts: most are convinced that he was supposed to tweet from a fake account but he forgot to switch accounts and accidentally twitted from the official Waltonchain account. Waltonchain team claiming that one of their employees also participated in the campaign, won and forgot to switch to his personal Twitter account. One Reddit user captured a snapshot of the tweet before it got taken down:
If you look closely at the list of winners you’ll find usernames like waltonchain_bot, which have been deleted since. Some of the accounts on the list were created within the last few months, have a low number of followers and mostly tweet about Waltonchain, which is quite suspicious.
Some users reported that they got banned from Waltonchain’s Telegram Channel and blocked from Twitter for asking questions regarding the incident. When I asked the mods of the Telegram channel, they said that those users got banned because they were spreading FUD.
Waltonchain tweeted an official statement regarding the incident:
— Waltonchain (@Waltonchain) March 1, 2018
Some people are having a hard time to believe in the legitimacy of the statement after the incident, but some users in the comments section of that tweet and some reddit users are stepping up for Waltonchain claiming that while this incident isn’t ethical, Waltonchain has a valuable platform to offer. If you look further into some of the apologists accounts on twitter they mostly tweet about Waltonchain.
The video that was mentioned in the tweet can be easily put together using Terminal and it’s hard for me as a developer to look at it as legitimate evidence and the fact that the video was publish after the incident doesn’t help it either. Publishing the script that picked the winners as an addition to the video would be more believable evidence.
Digging a Little Deeper
Before jumping into conclusion I’d like you to check out the Extended Hardware AMA, the summary of Waltonchain in 2017, watch Boxmining’s visit to Waltonchain Research Center in Xiamen take a look at their product demo. After watching the video and reading some material, my doubts about Waltonchain platform faded away to an extent. Instead of spreading the FUD and calling out Walton Team, I decided to think about bigger picture:
From Boxmining’s video, we can see that there’s a platform and in part 2 we can see that the CEO has a vision for WTC, which is good for long term growth.However, around minute 13 in part 1, Michael mentioned that he had some doubts in the project because they had some spelling mistakes on their website when it was launched. What crossed my mind at that point is that maybe they don’t have English speaking quality control and public relations team. China and the West are two very different cultures, and I think such a negligence easily forgiven in China and isn’t taken as serious as it is in the West. I remember few years ago I bought Chinese sound speakers and it had a funny flaw which demonstrates that Chinese might allow themselves to make such silly mistakes… Walton probably has English speaking employees that manage their accounts and stay in touch with the “knights” to share latest information on development, than those “knights” share that information with the western public.
While that might explain the twitter controversy and spelling errors, I don’t think that’s the best way to manage the business, especially in a sensitive fintech industry as blockchain. First of all, as an investor, I prefer to get my updates about the latest development from the core team itself, rather than the “knights”. This practice might lead to questionable results. For example, a “knight,” might share given information with his inner circle first before disclosing it to general public. I contacted a Reddit user – u/qTzz, which commented under the WTC Twitter controversy post. He expressed his concerns regarding this issue – he said that one of his friends has been in close contact with one of the “knights” and he was receiving information from the “knight” before it was disclosed to public. I asked if qTzz can provide me with chat history and he sent me some screenshots, but asked not to disclose them to public.
Another concern of mine is that Walton Team might give the “knights” some information to share with the public without announcing it officially. After some time they might decide to retract from that decision and deny passing along such information to the “knights.”
I contacted one of the WTC “Knights” – Crypto Buff and asked his opinion on this:
I did some more digging and it didn’t take me long to come across this tweet with a screenshot from Waltonchain official Slack chat:
On that screenshot we can see one of the “Knights” messaging about mainnet, mining, token conversion and giving Q1 time frame. I went to WTC Reddit page and so the following in their daily discussion post:
I got back to Crypto Buff and asked him about it:
Something To Learn
Over the years I’ve seen people blindly believe in Bitconnect, PlexCoin and other scammers, which indicates that people tend to fall for these scams due to a lack of judgement and research. Just by doing more extensive research I was able to find out what the core team is working on their platform and to an extent, it faded my concerns regarding legitimacy of the platform. I was able to talk to one of the representatives and I appreciate him answering my questions and I wasn’t left out without answers.
I’m not implying that Waltonchain’s team agenda is to scam anyone and I don’t want to align them with the likes of Bitconnect, but the incident clearly indicates that the team should pay closer attention to public relations and communication. Such negligence can lead to controversies and sometimes it can cause irreversible consequences. Due to the latest controversy a lot of people are convinced that Waltonchain Team lacking moral judgement and willing to make unethical decisions for profit. I don’t want to jump into conclusion and accuse them. I think that experienced public relations department would help avoid such incidents from happening and kinds of questions that are raised in the screenshot below could be avoided:
I think we all have something to learn from this – regular users must be more cautious when it comes to investing and trusting in cryptocurrency companies since they are dealing with unregulated market, they should always do their own research and approach coins with critical mindset. The companies themselves should avoid unethical decision making, should work on their communication channels and try to address investor concerns. Legit projects tend to have leaders and masterminds behind them that focus on the product and how it solves problems and contributes to the space. Many others, while they may look good, spend most if not all of their energy and resources on pumping and fronting.
Waltonchain dropped more than 10% since the incident – from 22$ to 18$ per coin following this fiasco and currently is around 19$.