Numerous websites that spread false or misleading information have received large financial donations in the form of donations in cryptocurrencies – also in Germany. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Brussels NGO “EU Disinfo Lab”, which was published this week. The amount of “crypto donations” received varies from single-digit euros to over two million euros. The cryptocurrencies used for the donations include Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash and Cardano. According to the study, decentralized cryptocurrencies tend to attract donations to disinfo platforms because of their anonymity and confidentiality. In addition, some of these online portals were cut off from other ways of financing or at least made more difficult.
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While deceptive websites have so far been funded by donations from more established payment channels, such as classic bank transfers or Paypal, influx through cryptocurrency is “increasingly common,” according to the study. The sites observed that calls for donations in cryptocurrencies are encouraged, include some German domains such as “KenFM / apolut.net” and the Covid vaccine opponent portals “kaiseretv.de”, “michael-mannheimer.net” and the Austrian portal “report24 .news “. The 17 websites examined in more detail in the study also include portals from Italy, Spain and the United States.
Ken Jebsen also benefits from this
As an example, the procedure for the disinfo page is “KenFM / apolut.net”, whose account on the crowdfunding portal Patreon was blocked the previous year after the intervention of the Berlin-Brandenburg media authority. The site was initiated by Ken Jebsen, who had previously attracted attention through anti-Semitic reports, among others, and changed domain after the Patreon ban and government intervention. According to the study, “kaiseretv” – a portal run by Gunnar Kaiser, where criticism of the government’s Covid-19 measures and theories of an alleged “population exchange” had previously been published – also collected over 35,000 euros in cryptocurrency donations. Kaiser, which is affiliated with climate denial groups, had previously been thrown out of a YouTube-affiliated program and lost the main source of revenue to its websites.
kaiseretv collects 213,431 euros
According to the Disinfo Lab study, the Kaiser portal managed to collect donations of 213,431 euros using Bitcoin within three years. The Italian conspiracy theory website “Salto Quantico” received the most cryptocurrencies among the monitored portals, their payments received from the cryptocurrency Litecoin alone amounted to 1.8 million euros – the portal harvested a total of 2.1 million euros in crypto-donors.
The purpose of the study is to draw more attention to the fact that the spread of false information is increasingly financed by cryptocurrencies, according to the EU Disinfo Lab.
In the last two years in particular, such portals have become increasingly popular, also financially, during the Covid 19 pandemic. Because the current geopolitical situation is contributing to increased polarization, this alternative funding option for misleading information portals is likely to continue to increase, the study concludes. However, one does not want to question the cryptocurrency system itself, but rather point out very clearly that there will probably be more to do for the supervisory authorities in the future.