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WEF Warns of Misinformation Danger, Fake SEC BTC ETF Tweet Adds Fuel to Fire

Last Updated January 13, 2024 1:12 PM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated January 13, 2024 1:12 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Misinformation ranks as the top threat to the world in the next two years.
  • Scammers are preying on investors in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry.
  • Fake news poses a threat to global stability as major elections loom.

Misinformation is the greatest threat facing the world in the next two years.

That’s the message sent out by a recent survey  conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF)

This concern is particularly acute in the context of upcoming elections and ongoing economic challenges.

WEF Survey Highlights Dangers of False Information

The significance of this issue was underscored by an incident where a fake post on the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s X account led to a temporary spike in Bitcoin’s value.

This revelation comes just as the Geneva-based organization prepares to host global leaders in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos next week. The forum has pointed out  increasing concerns about the potential for voter manipulation, a topic likely to be high on the agenda given recent events and the broader political and economic landscape. This focus on the dangers of false information reflects a growing awareness of its impact on financial markets, political processes, and public opinion.

Rank Short-term Outlook (2 years) Long-term Outlook (10 years)
1 Misinformation and disinformation Extreme weather events
2 Extreme weather events Critical change in earth systems
3 Societal polarization Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
4 Cyber insecurity Natural resource shortages
5 Interstate armed conflict Misinformation and disinformation
6 Lack of economic opportunity Adverse outcomes of AI technologies
7 Inflation Involuntary migration
8 Involuntary migration Cyber insecurity
9 Economic downturn Societal polarization
10 Pollution Pollution
Source: World Economic Forum, Global Risks Perception Survey 2023-2024

The latest annual poll  by the World Economic Forum, involving over 1,400 risk experts, policymakers, and industry leaders, has identified “misinformation and disinformation” as the foremost threat to the global economy in the short term. This concern is at the top of the list in a critical year for global politics and economic challenges.

The survey also highlights  that environmental concerns are the primary focus for the next decade, continuing a trend observed in previous years. The health and sustainability of our planet are increasingly dominating long-term global risk assessments.

How Scammers Prey on Investors and Undermine Industry Integrity

The cryptocurrency and blockchain world has witnessed a variety of fraudulent activities, undermining the industry’s integrity. Examples include:

  1. Cyber Attacks on Exchange Platforms: In February 2022, cryptocurrency exchange platform Wormhole  lost $320 million to a cyber attack​​. Such incidents highlight the vulnerability of digital assets to sophisticated cyber threats.
  2. Investment and Upfront Fee Scams: Scammers often lure investors with promises of high returns, only to steal upfront fees or personal information. This  capitalizes on the allure of quick wealth in the crypto market​​.
  3. Fake Celebrity Endorsements: Utilizing the influence of celebrities, scammers create fake endorsements for crypto investments. They often use legitimate-looking websites and well-known company names to lend credibility​​.
  4. Rug Pull Scams: This scam involves hyping a new project or coin to attract funding, only for scammers to disappear with the invested money. For example, the Squid coin scam saw a token’s value go from a cent to about $90, only to crash to zero later​​​​.
  5. Dating App Scams: Scammers on dating apps build trust, then convince victims to buy or give away cryptocurrency. After receiving the money, the scammer disappears​​.
  6. Phishing Scams: These scams involve sending emails with malicious links to fake websites to steal personal details, such as cryptocurrency wallet keys​​.
  7. Man-in-the-Middle Attacks: Scammers often exploit public Wi-Fi networks to intercept sensitive information, including cryptocurrency keys and account details​​.
  8. Social Media Giveaway Scams: Scammers post fake giveaways on social media, often using fake celebrity accounts. These scams lead people to fraudulent sites where they are asked to make payments under the guise of verification​​.
  9. Ponzi Schemes: In these schemes, new investors’ money pays older investors. The lure of high profits risk often traps unsuspecting victims in these scams​​.
  10. Fake Cryptocurrency Exchanges: The promise of lucrative exchanges and additional bitcoin entice investors. However, these exchanges are non-existent​​.

Fake News Threat to Global Stability as Major Elections Loom

In a significant year for democracy, more three billion people could vote in major elections around the world. The United States, India, Indonesia, Europe, and the United Kingdom are just some of the countries that will go to the polls in 2024. This comes at a time when economies are grappling with high borrowing costs, a consequence of a rare inflation surge.

The combination of these major elections with the current economic strain poses a potentially challenging and volatile scenario. This makes the role of accurate information and stable governance more crucial than ever.

Saadia Zahidi, WEF managing director said :

“When these two things come together — the economic hardship being faced by many people and the rise of synthetic content combined with going into an election year where people get to make decisions about who is going to be leading them — that together can be a very potent mix.”

The prioritization of fake news as a primary concern among attendees of the upcoming Davos meetings, which start on Monday. This year, the challenge of rebuilding trust is a key theme for global leaders and executives in the Swiss Alps.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has expressed concerns  that the widespread dissemination of misinformation and disinformation could severely impact the political landscape. These false narratives have the potential to erode the legitimacy of newly elected governments, incite violent protests, and possibly even lead to terrorism.

Global outlook
Credit: World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2024

Growing Global Concerns Over Misinformation

Zahidi further elaborated  on the complexities of differing perceptions. She raised a question about the ownership of truth in such a scenario. In this case, varied and often conflicting viewpoints create a challenge in discerning objective reality.

The future, including in the crypto and blockchain sector, seems fraught with complexity and uncertainty. The survey suggests two-thirds of respondents anticipate a shift towards a multipolar or fragmented world order . This development that could have profound implications for the global cryptocurrency and blockchain industries.

In this evolving landscape, various powers, both established and emerging, are expected to to have an influence the creation and enforcement of regulatory norms and standards. This period is also likely to see major challenges related to climate change. This does not only affect global governance. It also poses critical questions for the sustainability and environmental impact of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency mining.

The World Economic Forum’s analysis of the survey results indicates a challenging era ahead . The report underscores a predominantly negative short-term outlook that may deteriorate further over time.

This perspective is shaped by shifts in areas such as global power, climate, technology, and demographics. All of these are connected to and influential in cryptocurrency and blockchain. These changes are testing the adaptability limits of our world. They present significant hurdles in risk management and strategy formulation for both traditional sectors and the rapidly evolving fields of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

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