The McAfee Effect: Twitter Bots, Fake Accounts Exploiting Manic Price Volatility Caused By Tech Pioneer’s Tweets
John McAfee, who in 1987 founded McAfee Associates – the software company best known for creating the world’s first commercial antivirus software, McAfee – is sending daily shockwaves throughout the altcoin community.
Leveraging his enormous Twitter following, the eccentric cybersecurity visionary has taken to publicly endorsing a unique altcoin each day. The reason for doing so is explained in his tweet on December 20:
Beginning tomorrow, I will each day talk about a unique altcoin. Most of the 2,000 coins are trash or scams. I’ve read every white paper. The few I’m connected to I will tell you. The rest I have no position in. These coins will change the world. You can support that change”
What has followed has been nothing short of widespread delirium; vindicating behavioural economists all over the world. The first cryptocurrency to warrant McAfee’s endorsement was Electroneum (ETN). Next up was Burst (BURST). Following that was DigiByte (DGB). Then it was Reddcoin (RDD). Most recently, earning his Christmas day appraisal was Humaniq (HMQ).
Illustrating the mania that McAfee’s ‘Coin of the Day’ series has prompted is the price behaviour of each altcoin immediately after his daily tweets. According to data from CoinMarketCap, each cryptocurrency – with a market cap synonymous to that of a micro-cap stock – has sky-rocketed hours, and eventually just seconds, after endorsement comes by way McAfee’s twitter account.
As the first coin broadcasted by the popular tech pioneer, ETN experienced more than a quadrupling of its 24-hour trading volume ($USD) in just 9 hours. An hour after his tweet, ETN’s price had increased by 64%. Only 24 hours later, such gains had just about cancelled out entirely.
Incredibly, the investment activity in ETN appears unfazed in comparison to the four altcoins that followed (especially BURST, RDD, and HMQ). This is due to two reasons. Firstly, ETN’s market cap was significantly bigger than BURST, RDD, and HMQ at the time of their respective tweets from McAfee. Whilst DGB’s market cap was larger than ETN’s, this was largely the consequence of a previous endorsement by McAfee on a recent interview, as covered in our article. Secondly, with ETN being the first to feature in McAfee’s ‘Coin of the Day’ series of tweets, it meant that exposure lacked in comparison to the other altcoins which were tweeted about after news of his daily tweets eventually pervaded the cryptocurrency community.
Clearly, there is money to be made from the volatility that these daily tweets are creating. It is therefore unsurprising to learn of different schemes that have been devised in order to capitalise on such an opportunity. For instance, there have been fake social media accounts spreading forged screenshots of conversations they have allegedly had with John McAfee himself; depicting him as a shill who is financially vested in his daily endorsements. The most notable of which was an imposter Twitter account that McAfee himself called out.
Beyond the fake information circulating social media, the questionably moral use of bots appears more noteworthy. These Twitter bots are programmed to identify coin names from McAfee’s tweets, where trading bots then proceed to instantly purchase these coins before humans have even read the tweet. As money from human investors inevitably begins to flood the relevant market, the trading bot then dumps their supply of coins, banking a huge profit, which subsequently sends the price into a downward spiral. Such an issue was today addressed by McAfee in a tweet, saying that he is “working on fooling the bots” in order to even up the playing field.
Of course, this is not the first time that McAfee has taken to Twitter to share his opinions on particular cryptocurrencies. Only on December 13 did he share a tweet backing in privacy coins including Verge (XVG), seeing its price more than triple within 24 hours.
More powerful than the initial gains is the fact that McAfee’s endorsements place such altcoins permanently on the radar of active crypto investors. This is something that bots or swindlers cannot manipulate, for it is a far more intangible, long-term impact of such tweets. You need not look past XVG to illustrate this, with its price having surged by almost 3,000% in the two weeks since the tweet; with news of its upcoming Wraith Protocol now reaching an audience size that is immensely larger thanks to McAfee.