Andreas M. Antonopoulos, the author of “Mastering Bitcoin” and a self-proclaimed “computer geek” who has dedicated his career to bitcoin, has a bone to pick with Bitly, the web-link shortening service.
Bitly has seemingly blacklisted cryptocurrency sites from its service, prompting readers with a warning prior to redirecting to the original website, a Twitter thread between the bitcoin expert and one of his readers reveals.
Antonopoulos is close to publishing his fourth book, which is comprised of hundreds of crypto-related bit.ly links that Bitly is blocking. A reader seemingly brought this to his attention, questioning why Bitly was issuing a warning when the sites “don’t point to any harmful location at all.” Antonopoulos asks the company for an explanation, threatening to remove and replace all of the bit.ly links with a competitor. The fourth book he references appears to be “Mastering Ethereum”, which comes out in less than four weeks.
Why are you blocking https://t.co/9gk4wWPQnN links to crypto-currency sites?
I'm about to publish my 4th book and it has about 200 https://t.co/9gk4wWPQnN links in it. If you are going to block links, I will need to remove all 200 and replace them with a competitor https://t.co/Xg4FkemcA7
— Andreas M. Antonopoulos (@aantonop) November 3, 2018
The “Mastering Bitcoin” author went on to canvas the crypto community for a solution, asking: “What (reliable, neutral, established) link-shortening service can I use that doesn’t filter/block links based on a broken blacklisting service? I need to replace all @Bitly links in my book ASAP.” While he wasn’t looking for “roll your own” suggestions, this is largely what he received from the Twitter sphere.
Other followers suggested that Antonopoulos avoid shortening links in his new book altogether, saying that readers aren’t keen on clicking on a link shrouded in mystery anyway. Others still suggested taking a more decentralized approach by using an archive system at the end of the page or chapter to avoid relying on a third-party altogether.
Crypto Ban Deja Vu
Antonopoulos is an influencer in the cryptocurrency community and probably someone that Bitly doesn’t want to alienate, as it would likely trigger a ripple effect among blockchain-content publishers. He is an early bitcoin investor who previously sold his holdings to pay his rent, in response to which he became in a millionaire thanks to donations by the crypto supporters inspired by Roger Ver.
His books, which also includes “The Internet of Money”, are best sellers. Most recently, “Mastering Bitcoin” has made its way into China’s media programming, though they replaced Bitcoin in the title with Blockchain. Antonopoulos said that “even with a slightly sanitized title…the content is the same.”
Meanwhile, tech leaders including Facebook and Google earlier this year attempted to officially block crypto-related ads but those bans have since been lifted. Investors cried foul at the time, pointing out how tech giants continued to allow ads for other risky sites like gambling. Meanwhile, ads are a key component to the tech revenue model.
It’s unclear if Bitly has taken an official position on crypto-related links, and the company has yet to respond to an email seeking comment.
Update: The links are working again. A representative to Bitly told CCN:
“These links were inadvertently blocked, but the issue was resolved over the weekend and they all should be working now.”
Featured image from Shutterstock.