First she documented the alt-right. Now she’s coming for crypto.

In a strange, animated YouTube video , Cryptoland paints itself as the ultimate utopia, featuring luxurious villas, a casino and a private club, all located on a pristine island in Fiji. Built by and for cryptocurrency enthusiasts, it was looking for investors.

To Molly White, the project wasn’t just cringeworthy bluster, it was promotional material for yet another potential scam — one that was targeting the money of real people. Digging into Cryptoland’s organizing documents, she found a business plan full of contradictions and other red flags, like an address in the Seychelles islands, a tax haven which has hosted previous high-profile crypto scams .

White unpacked the project in a dashed-off Twitter thread , which went viral, kicking off a wave of criticism and ridicule and spawning copycat videos that boast millions of views. Now, Cryptoland’s website appears inactive, and supporters have abandoned it. Requests for comment to its founders were not answered.

A 28-year-old software engineer who writes Wikipedia articles for fun, White is an odd figure to make the crypto industry cower. On her website , “Web3 is Going Just Great,” White documents case after case of crypto malfeasance: investments that turn out to be scams, poorly-run projects that collapse under mismanagement and hacks that drain supporters’ money.

As much of the financial and tech elite has rallied around crypto , White has led a small but scrappy group of skeptics pushing the other way whose warnings have seemed vindicated by the cratering in recent weeks of cryptocurrency prices.

“Most of my disdain is reserved for the big players who are marketing this to a mainstream audience as though it’s an investment, often promising to be a ticket out of a really tough financial spot for people who don’t have many options,” White said. “It’s very predatory.”

To White and her fellow critics, crypto company founders and the venture capitalists backing them are presiding over a massive, unregulated attempt to rid regular people of their money by exaggerating the potential of crypto technology. Years spent online, researching esoteric Internet cultures have made White a rare figure who can maneuver the technically complex, meme-filled world of crypto, translating it into digestible prose.

White works from her home in Massachusetts, which she shares with two cats and a 70-pound pandemic puppy. She sports a youthful uniform of jeans, sweaters and Converse sneakers and communicates with her fellow crypto skeptics through Zoom and Twitter direct messages. She’s declined several offers to speak at in-person conferences, citing the time commitment.

As more people begin to question cryptomania, White’s prominence has grown: Journalists call her to gut-check stories, and she has lectured for students at Stanford University and provided advice to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on potential crypto legislation.

“In the world of cryptocurrency, many things are not what they seem,” said Ben McKenzie, a TV actor and former star in “The O.C.” who began writing about cryptocurrency during the pandemic and has become another one of the industry’s best-known critics. “Molly shines a light through darkness and presents it for the world to see.”

White’s targets say her brand of criticism is too cynical, cherry-picking dramatic examples of failure to mischaracterize an entire industry that is mostly full of good people and good ideas. She in turn has been experiencing an uncomfortable form of vindication.

“I wasn’t the only crypto skeptic who expected some of these projects to fall apart, but it doesn’t make it fun to watch,” she said.

The cryptocurrency world and its boosters are forging on . Mega-investors such as venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which struck big years ago with early investments in Facebook, Skype and Airbnb, have put billions of dollars into the space. The debate over who crypto serves and who will ultimately win is far from over. White’s voice is rising, but the money and power plowing into crypto is, too.

Molly White grew up on the Internet. As a preteen, she began writing and editing Wikipedia pages, first for bands she liked, and then to document unsung women scientists. During the Trump presidency, her interests shifted to right-wing Internet movements and domestic extremism: She edited articles on the brutal online attacks on women gamers and journalists, which came to be known as “GamerGate,” and the “boogaloo” militia movement. In the past 15 years, White’s racked up more than 100,000 edits and served on the organization’s arbitration committee , the high court that settles disputes on the site.

So when the term Web3, a catchall for organizations and companies built around cryptocurrency technology, began cropping up on […]

source First she documented the alt-right. Now she’s coming for crypto.

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