Redditors furious Newsweek ‘doxxed’ Bitcoin founder

For its return to print this week, Newsweek has a splashy story: Senior Writer Leah McGrath Goodman found the mysterious Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto. She did it with public records:

It was only while scouring a database that contained the registration cards of naturalized U.S. citizens that a Satoshi Nakamoto turned up whose profile and background offered a potential match. But it was not until after ordering his records from the National Archives and conducting many more interviews that a cohesive picture began to take shape.

Two weeks before our meeting in Temple City, I struck up an email correspondence with Satoshi Nakamoto, mostly discussing his interest in upgrading and modifying model steam trains with computer-aided design technologies. I obtained Nakamoto’s email through a company he buys model trains from.

This kind of derring-do plays well with journalists: “How to find Satoshi Nakamoto: The phone book. Wow,” BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith tweeted. But on Reddit, “doxxing” (releasing personal information about someone) is a cardinal sin. And Goodman’s revelations about Nakamoto — including his picture and one of his house — are not terribly popular on r/bitcoin.

“[D]oxxing people is apparently fine if you are a ‘journalist,’” one commenter wrote. “Well, yeah, sorry Reddit’s rules don’t apply to the real world in that regard, they never really have,” another replied.

“Can anyone here locate the address of one Leah McGrath Goodman – perhaps we should post her address, license plate and picture of her home, so people can come and comment on the article?” wrote another. “if you can please post it here; She probably can’t wait for people to knock on her door.. I mean obviously – she doesn’t care about privacy.”

(On Twitter, Leah McGrath Goodman noted that addresses and car registrations are already public.) “Reddit users are welcome to share their own opinions on the whereabouts and identity of Mr. Nakamoto but we would encourage them to abstain from ad hominem attacks on our reporter, Leah McGrath Goodman,” a Newsweek spokesperson told Capital.

It was Redditors who falsely identified Sunil Tripathi as the Boston bombing suspect. Reporters from Politico, BuzzFeed and Newsweek carried his name forward. Tripathi was later found dead, and Reddit General Manager Erik Martin apologized for the site’s role in spreading misinformation:

A few years ago, reddit enacted a policy to not allow personal information on the site. This was because “let’s find out who this is” events frequently result in witch hunts, often incorrectly identifying innocent suspects and disrupting or ruining their lives. We hoped that the crowdsourced search for new information would not spark exactly this type of witch hunt. We were wrong. The search for the bombers bore less resemblance to the types of vindictive internet witch hunts our no-personal-information rule was originally written for, but the outcome was no different.



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  • Kevin ‘Demortes’ Dethlefs

    I’m pretty sure anyone dedicated to do just that could have, had they been given the time and opportunity. Ya know, that naive “You can do anything you want to if you set your mind to it” saying? Another wording for that to open the comment… 7 others didn’t seem to mind, among those that I can’t see… 7 seemed to have liked my post. Not sure why you cared enough to post “this is ignorant” bs that wasn’t even the main point of the comment.

  • Loel Lund

    All we are trying to do is make some money–or better yet–to create some wealth the same way the derivatives, IPOs and junk bonds did in the recent past–Greenspan’s “unrealized capital gains.” The banks too big to fail are not part of the bit coin movement, at least not yet.

  • Anton Grimes

    I believe they believe privacy is something everyone is entitled to

  • Anton Grimes

    a private customer database is not a public record

  • Ufupuw

    Newsweek has egg on it’s face.

    Look at his English here (the real inventror who speaks fluent English)

    this is someone who perfectly understands P2P and decentralized network and speaks fluent English

    Also, see his discussions and responses in cryptography mailing list dating back to 2009

    Now compare someone that fluent in English with Dorian

    “Several times during the interview with AP, Nakamoto mistakenly referred to the currency as “bitcom,” and as a single company”

    “”I’m saying I’m no longer in engineering. That’s it,” he said of the exchange. “And even if I was, when we get hired, you have to sign this document, contract saying you will not reveal anything we divulge during and after employment. So that’s what I implied.”

    They are not the same person, idiots!!

  • Organized DisOrganization

    Shouldn’t there be laws against this kind of behavior?

  • John Doe

    Hey guys, spread the word. The REAL Satoshi Nakamoto appeared to save Dorian. Look at his p2p foundation profile.

  • Blockchains

    Yes, I’m sure anyone could have solved the double-spend problem that crypto-currency researchers have been trying to solve for ~20 years prior.

    I’ll agree that people should leave him alone, but the notion that “Anyone could do it, they just did it first after studying encryption or any number of items first.” is rather ignorant.

  • Sterling Ericsson

    Andrew, are you seriously trying to do some tu quoque fallacy BS in that last paragraph? Shame on you.

  • mkohlmyr

    Satoshi Nakamoto put an idea out there. Yes, people should be able to put an idea out in the world without having their personal information (or the personal information of someone with the same name) spread by a major news outlet trying to make a splash in a way that could quite possibly bring harm onto him or his family. Especially when he was quite clearly made a point of being a private person and does little or nothing in the way of actively championing the idea in the mainstream.

    What did you learn about bitcoin from this article? What key piece of information has it given you to work with that you could not do without? There is nothing. This was a sensationalist story which has no hope of having any real positive impact on anyone, while quite possibly endangering the person in question. It will sell issues though.

    The really sad part is that they seem to have actually done some investigative journalism. If only they had applied it to a better story. Maybe even done something to *gasp* inform the public on an important issue.

  • h0cus_P0cus

    Yes actually. A huge problem historically for humans is not judging an idea on its merits but rather judging it on who is involved, or trying to ascertain the motives of the creator. Ideas stand on their own, its hard to judge them and think through their consequences I know, it requires a rigorous process of deconstructing, thinking deeply, understanding, judging merit etc. The feeble minded may simply wish to latch on to a name to follow, but the names are ever changing and largely unimportant.

  • Erik S.

    So, some people on reddit and twitter think that people who act to change the world should be able to do so without the world asking any questions? How could they imagine that could ever possibly work?

  • Kizone Kaprow

    “Doxing” is a revenge tactic that the world’s crypto-anarchists wish to reserve for themselves. They don’t know the difference between legitimate journalism and “doxing.” Their motto is “privacy for me but not for thee.” Their enemy is “mainstream” journalism and journalists who take the First Amendment seriously. Anyone who crosses the crypto-anarchists is “fair game,” according to these amoral thugs.

  • Kevin ‘Demortes’ Dethlefs

    Sounds like it wouldn’t be the first time Newsweek spreads wrong information without checking its sources. Either way, I don’t care for the creator. Let the man/woman live their lives as they please. Anyone could do it, they just did it first after studying encryption or any number of items first.

  • jerry11

    The difference being that this man could have $500 million in digital currency someone could kidnap him for. And the fact that some users on Reddit aren’t all of Reddit. I don’t believe the man identified by Newsweek is even the creator of Bitcoin, which makes it even more irresponsible.

    And I love how a few Internet users irresponsibly hunting for a terrorist suspect is equivalent to a professional reporter exposing the privacy of a man who committed no crime.