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A Lonesome Man’s Life on Display: The Manhunt for Satoshi Nakamoto

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Newsweek recently released an article describing the life and background of the one they claim invented Bitcoin. It’s important to note that the proofs provided are mostly indirect and the story relies heavily on the man’s very eccentric personality and years of classified work for the government. I’m not gonna lie: This is still some impressive digging and a fascinating read. The person fits the bill. He’s portrayed as mysterious and brilliant as you could possibly imagine. The author said she aimed at writing an inspiring piece. She certainly did just that.

But in hindsight, I must agree with the strong sentiment of the large amount of feedback in the comment section: This is a pretty destructive piece on a person who clearly has his problems with publicity and has shown great intent at not wanting to have his private life and professional endeavors spread on the Internet. Knowing how public attention and the scare of being “man hunted” can drive some people to hopelessness and suicide, the author here runs the risk of being left with an EXTREME amount of guilt if that happens in this case, and she should arguably feel horrible about what she’s done, along with the forensic analysts who contributed to the public shaming of a living man who simply values his peace and solitude, while having recently suffered from both cancer and a stroke.

I would have liked to discuss the article with the author herself. Leah. Let me ask you, before I pass judgment on your deeds, is this a tale to engulf the person in a greater mystery, or an attempt to find the Bitcoin inventor named Satoshi Nakamoto? If not intended as fiction, are the names of the people at least changed and their identities kept anonymous? Or is this a real tale with real names of wives, siblings and children? It certainly doesn’t say anywhere that the names are alter egos to preserve their and his anonymity, and the article goes a long way to proclaim itself as truth. The revelations and aftermath certainly points to the details of his life being true and unedited, as confirmed by Satoshi himself in an interview with Associated Press. I am therefore to assume that Satoshi Nakamoto’s whole life is on full display in this article for the public to see. Please tell me, when doing this journalistic piece, how could you not “anonymize” names?; How could you not leave out certain crucial aspects of his job career in order to protect his privacy?; How could you post a picture of his face, let alone his home?; How could you reveal his name change?; How could you reveal his personal loves and passions against his will? Anyone involved in investigating the mind or researching the social aspects of life learns the importance of this from day 1: Respect individual rights, autonomy and privacy.

Leah. You gained his trust and then you viciously broke it, just as you told the tale for the whole world to read and devour, like a twisted mistress playing games with someone’s heart and soul, before cynically gloating about it. That’s pretty evil.

But in the end, all of that doesn’t matter as much as this simple fact: Regardless of whether he actually invented Bitcoin or not, you probably just destroyed his life. I hope, for his sake, that you didn’t also contribute to its end. I sincerely hope not. He never hurt or violated anyone. All he asked of you was to leave him be. I guess your fetishistic dreams of journalistic fame and glory was more important to you than his life and intellectual autonomy. Less important, although noteworthy and deserving of some sympathy, is that you may now unwittingly become a victim of the same. The comments here foreshadow it, and knowing the Internet, by violating his intellectual autonomy and privacy, you essentially gave up yours. For your sake, I hope you’re ready to risk having your whole life and all your darkest secrets blown up before the vengeful world of the Internet. The damage is already done.

While the story may have intended to be inspiring and fascinating, which it in some sense absolutely was, I hate to think that the results will only be sad and potentially tragic, no matter who actually invented Bitcoin. Absolutely nothing has been gained from this article. There has only been loss, and especially for poor Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto who is now plagued with reporters against his will.

I only have one ending remark: I’d love to eat sushi with Satoshi and learn about model trains, and then tell absolutely no one about our meeting.

Other articles on the topic:

Bitcoin Community Responds… – An article about the public response to the Newsweek article.

Man Denies He Created Bitcoin… – An article showing the aftermath of the Newsweek piece, which only goes to show that my worries are substantiated and worth taking into consideration. Even though he denies creating Bitcoin, which is just as likely to be the case, this article may still have destroyed his life as he preferred it, as he now is a victim of a manhunt.

…Doubts Satoshi Nakamoto’s Identity – A funny and counter-investigative piece, undermining the Newsweek article’s credibility. I echo its conclusion: “While it is seductive to imagine that the secretive genius is a humble old man playing with trains, the consequences of Goodman being wrong outweigh any potential insight gained by the revelation if it is true. While it wouldn’t be the first life the media has ruined with accusations, the standard response of “they deserve it for seeking such fame” will not apply to this case.”

AP Exclusive Interview… – Article of the AP interview with Satoshi, where he denies creating Bitcoin and points out the inaccuracies of Newsweek article.

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Written by Morten Rolland

March 7, 2014 at 6:01 am