Best TruStories of the Week - #4


#21

@DanielKoff kudos. This is so great. I learned a lot from this.


#22

Thanks @Preethi. I found it interesting that a huge proportion of the funding dedicated to blockchain in China comes from the government (centralized much?!), whereas in the US, a very tiny fraction of total blockchain funding comes from the government.

I was disappointed to find out that a significant percentage of the US government investment into the blockchain space is for chain analysis to facilitate regulation / enforcement, whereas in China they seem dedicated (however misguided their centralized attempt may turn out to be) at pushing the limits of the technology.


#23

Claim:First and foremost , with a growing community of developers (already over 500,000), Ethereum is indisputably the leading system for building decentralized applications.

Source::https://medium.com/quidli/ethereum-quidli-2431e7567c2b

Evidence:Ethereum as probably the biggest blockchain community, but 500 000 developers seem a long shot, see the ethereum community reaction on Reddit .
Where those number come from ?
The Ethereum developer community is estimated to be the largest in the world, at 250,000. In October 2017, Truffle — a development framework for Ethereum — surpassed 200,000 downloads. In less than a year, downloads are now at nearly 550,000. Github, which draws open-source developers from around the world, lists 14,000 repositories and 220,000 commits concerning Ethereum. MetaMask — a browser extension allowing users to to run dApps without running an entire Ethereum node — has reached over 1 million users.

Satus:: (Bogus), we could not consider software client download number as active developer, those number seem truly inflated but difficult to be falsified.

Option:

  1. Look at Dapp activity
  2. Number of certified Ethreum blockchain developer from trusted source.
  3. Do a developer world wide survey on the question
  4. Look at Github activity
  5. Look at the number of member on Ethereum Meetup group

Conclusion: Ethereum as probably the biggest blockchain developer community but 500 000 developers seem a inflated number.


#24

Excellent analysis!! @brunocecchini23


#25

Claim: Woman used crypto to fund ISIS, faces 20 year prison sentence.

Source: https://www.thecryptoupdates.com/woman-used-crypto-to-fund-isis-faces-20-year-prison-sentence/

Evidence:

There are three components to this claim: 1) she purchased cryptocurrencies 2) she transferred the funds to support ISIS 3) she faces 20 years in prison, if convicted.

Evidence for the first two points come from The Department of Justice’s official letter to a US Magistrate judge.

RE: She purchased cryptocurrencies:

Subsequently, in or about and between June 2017 and July 2017, she used these credit
cards – along with at least ten other credit cards in her name – to purchase approximately
$62,703.61 in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from various internet exchanges. […] Most of these cryptocurrencies that the defendant purchased were then converted to U.S. dollars and transferred into a checking account in the defendant’s name (“Bank Account 1”).

RE: She transferred these funds to support ISIS:

On or about May 23, 2017, the defendant sent two separate payments of $4,000 and $3,000 to an individual in Pakistan (“John Doe #1”) from a Queensbased money remittance service. Records from Bank Account 1 show that on or about July 21, 2017, the defendant made a $100,025.00 remittance via wire transfer to an individual in Ankara, Turkey (John Doe #4). This transaction occurred days before the defendant’s attempted travel to Syria and depleted almost all of the funds in Bank Account 1.

Note: Sending money to bank accounts in Pakistan or Turkey obviously doesn’t imply supporting ISIS. However, the same letter includes highly-specific google searches that correlate exactly with the timing of her transactions and her attempt to travel to Syria. You can see the letter for details but here’s an exercept:

Example of the websites and social media pages the defendant accessed include titles such as “Hijrah Checklist,” “Hijrah Tips and Reminders,” “a message to the hesitant one from jihad hijrah,” and “what made you join [ISIS].”

On 11/28/18, she plead guilty:

As part of her plea agreement with the government, Shahnaz admitted defrauding numerous financial institutions, and then laundering and transferring the stolen proceeds out of the country with the intent to support a specified unlawful activity, namely the provision of material support to ISIS, after which she attempted to leave the United States and travel to Syria. When sentenced, Shahnaz faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as restitution, criminal forfeiture and a fine. The guilty plea was entered before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert.

RE: She faces a 20 years prison sentence, if convicted.

When she is sentenced, Shahnaz faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as restitution, criminal forfeiture and a fine. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. Any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

That is a direct quote from the Department of Justice press release on the case.

Status: The origininal claim has been rejected because she is not convicted nor has the final sentence term been defined. The following, amended claim, is true:

Woman who purchased crypto to fund ISIS, could face up to 20 years in prison, if convicted.


#26

this is absolutely amazing, @paulapivat! reasons like this are why i am so interested in crypto/blockchain. i love how you contacted the person as well…personally speaking, i’d love to do more research into this area, and see what other ways this can be used…


#27

Wow! Interesting story. I like that you amended the claim from the headline…switching out “used” for “purchased.” The original headline word choice subtly vilifies crypto as the ‘big bad wolf’ that’s enabling ISIS support.


#28

I think this story raises an interesting question regarding how we describe claims as “verified.” The article you link to says the woman was charged but not yet convicted, meaning that legally she is still presumed innocent until proven guilty. AS @bhaumik’s great post shows, the public evidence against her is overwhelming. But as a principle, is TruStory (or whoever wants to respond to this) OK describing these kinds of claims as “verified” prior to conviction.

This is especially difficulty in national security cases in the US, since those seem to drag on forever, even in the case of overwhelming evidence. Though this case is being handled through the regular fed courts so it should move relatively quickly.


#29

@jsrubin great question. really good point. In this case, we should either reject the original claim or amend it to say "up to 20 years if convicted” as @bhaumik highlighted in his analysis.


#30

That’s a great point. I modified the claim in my post accordingly, separating the original headline from the claim we’re fact-checking. I still have a bad tendency to copy the original headline directly. Explicitly noting the differences between a news headline and TruStory claim is a useful thought exercise.


#32

Claim: Morgan Creek said that Facebook will build the “most used” product in crypto

Source: https://www.ccn.com/facebook-will-build-most-used-product-in-crypto-morgan-creek/

Evidence: image

Status: False
While Anthony Pompliano did say that he bets Facebook builds the most used product in crypto, he did so on his personal Twitter account. His social media persona was in development well before Morgan Creek, and his views tweeted from his personal account do not necessarily represent the views of the institution he is a partner of. Therefore, I would argue that CCN’s article is both misleading and false.


#33

Hi Asusaria, thank! One of the earlier examples of blockchain being used for social impact is “Blockchain for Zero Hunger” https://innovation.wfp.org/project/building-blocks you might be interested in this, check it out. There might even be material that could be suitable for TruStory-analysis :slight_smile:


#34

Note : Trying something different this round. Instead of a news headline, I’d like to present an argument I heard on Laura Shin’s podcast, interviewing Ari Paul , who is a portfolio manager in the crypto space. While price speculation is something that generally does not lend itself to verification/falsification, in this case, I believe Ari Paul makes a nuanced enough argument where his sub-claims could be worth digging into. Open to feedback J

Context : In the interview, Ari Paul discusses his approach to valuing cryptocurrencies. He states that among the various coins, he has the most concrete mental model for Bitcoin.

Broad claim : Ari Paul is long (bullish) Bitcoin.

Sub-claim #1 : Ari Paul suggests that the total addressable market size (TAM) for Bitcoin’s “off-shore banking use case” is roughly 20-30 Trillion Dollars. Source : Title: “Ari Paul on Why Bitcoin Is a Good Value Buy” (approx. minute 23 – 30) http://unchainedpodcast.co/ari-paul-on-why-bitcoin-is-a-good-value-buy-today-ep95

Evidence A : What is the market for off-shore banking? Claim: About 10% of world GDP is held in tax havens globally (~ proxy for offshore banking market). Source : https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2017/09/11/2193564/chart-of-the-day-offshore-tax-haven-market-share-edition/

Evidence B : What is the total world GDP? Claim : World GDP (PPP) is forecasted at $134.98 trillion. Source: http://statisticstimes.com/economy/countries-by-projected-gdp.php

Sub-claim #1 (Revised) : Ari Paul threw out 20-30 Trillion dollars as Bitcoin’s off-shore banking use case. Initial evidence suggests that the market size for off-shore banking would be 10% of ~$135 trillion, which is roughly $13.5 Trillion – quite a bit off from Ari Paul’s floor number ($20 Trillion) .

Status : Weak support.

Sub-claim #2 (core component of his Investment Thesis): The “winning” public cryptocurrency will win at least 50% of the market (note: if the total addressable market is $20-30 trillion, then half of that: $10 – 15 Trillion). Implicit claim : Bitcoin is a “winner take all” market (or winner take “most” market).

Status : Given Evidence A & B submitted above, I’d revise this to say “Ari Paul’s Bitcoin valuation would be at 50% of $13.5 Trillion, which is around $6.75 Trillion”.

Sub-claim #3 : Every large US company holds cash in off-shore accounts. (He makes this claim in support of his investment thesis around Bitcoin).

Evidence : As of June 2017, of the 500 largest US non-financial companies, the majority held approx. $1 trillion of cash reserves, is held in offshore. Source : https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-real-story-behind-us-companies-off-shore-cash-reserves

Status : Supported. I’d revise the claim to say “Many” instead of “Every” large US companies held cash in off-shore accounts.

Tentative Conclusion : Some claims were supported, other claims were weakly supported. Based on available evidence, revisions to the investment thesis might be worthwhile.


#35

I don’t even think his thesis makes sense. Why would a company hold their value in such a volatile currency? What is the precise justification for why companies would put their value in Bitcoin over off shore banks? Has a single corporation considered doing so?

The losses a company or UHNWI would experience holding their assets in Bitcoin this past year would be far worse than the taxes they would have paid. I have never understood that line of reasoning.


#36

Claim: Morgan Creek Digital Is Betting $1 million that Crypto Can Beat the S&P 500

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/morgan-creek-digital-is-betting-1-million-that-crypto-can-beat-the-sp-500

Evidence:

Status: False

No one so far has taken the other side of the bet, so technically Morgan Creek Digital is not betting $1 million yet. They are willing to bet $1 million, but unlike Warren Buffet’s original bet in favor of the S&P 500, there has been no terms signed upon by at least two parties. A bet has to be a risk of value against someone else on the basis of an outcome of a future event. Morgan Creek is lacking the someone else portion of the definition at this point in time.


#37

Excellent breakdown. I honestly can’t wait till we launch and can have this type of analysis layed out and letting the world see it and you getting credit for. Good job.


#38

Really great write up, I consume most of my content in video/podcast form so it’s great to see this showing up as a TruStory claim. What’s the current set of guidelines for breaking these claims down? Having these as separate digestable chunks would make it a lot easier to read.


#39

Great question @iaculch. this case, we’d want to create a separate story for each claim, and analyze each independently.

One of the features we’ll have in the app is threaded stories – so that claims that logically go together can also be analyzed/viewed together.


#40

Claim - 5-10% (or more in coming days) of total Ethereum nodes could fail if Infura continues to rely on a centralized hosting server.

Source - https://www.coindesk.com/the-race-is-on-to-replace-ethereums-most-centralized-layer
https://www.ccn.com/dev-ethereum-may-fail-if-it-relies-on-infura-to-run-nodes-potential-solution/

Evidence/Argument : Infura which is operated by single provider consensus mainly relies on cloud servers hosted by Amazon implies that failure of these servers may directly lead to failure of nodes and thus take down huge chunk of dapps in total.

I tried to pulled out tweet from Afri Schoedon which himself is arguing about the issue.

Consensys itself is aware of the particular threat and thus invested in Incubator, which is trying to reduce Metamask dependance on Infura on its gateway to ethereum. Infura is also trying to diversify the number of cloud providers it relies on so that it’s not purely reliant on Amazon which was informed by Michael Wuehler, co-founder Infura

This confirms the claim that both founder and incubating company are aware of the threat and taking right measure to prevent it by reducing infura dependancy on centralized infrastructure.

Status : Confirmed


#41

Claim: GrainChain (Agricultural blockchain) - a stake has been aqcuired by Overstock.com

Source : https://cointelegraph.com/news/overstocks-medici-ventures-acquires-stake-in-agricultural-blockchain-firm

Analysis: The Overstock is a subsidary of Medici ventures have aqcuired a stake in grainchain to integrate supplychain and track distribution process of harvests.

I searched the company’s press statements and found that there is a press release about Vinx, A Israli based block chain company developing platform to streamline wine futures. But no evidence to confirm the above claim.

Evidence:

http://investors.overstock.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=131091&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2370286

Verdict: Unconfirmed