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Hack or fat-fingered SEC intern?

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has denied that its staff had any involvement in posting the recent “unauthorized” tweet claiming that spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded funds (ETFs) had been approved, though some in the crypto community still think otherwise. 

On Jan. 9, the official X (formerly Twitter) account of the SEC posted that it had granted approvals for Bitcoin ETFs to be listed on all registered national securities exchanges. This turned out to be false, according to statements from SEC Chair Gary Gensler and the SEC. 

Despite this, some pundits on X believe the post was constructed by the SEC — but was potentially sent out too early, or by mistake. Others argue there are clues to suggest why this is not the case.

Another X user pointed to the SEC’s choice of words “compromised” and “unauthorized” to suggest that the account had not been hacked, or the post was meant to be sent later. 

However, others believe it’s likely the hack did take place as claimed, noting that the hashtags and auto-appearing Bitcoin icon were out of place for the SEC.

Meanwhile, Cinneamhain Ventures partner Adam Cochran suggested it was possible that both of the theories could be true simultaneously. 

“My guess is that the SEC account was both hacked AND that the tweet was real,” he wrote in a Jan. 9 X post. “Hacker first tweeted and then deleted just a ticker. Then likely found the tweet with the announcement graphic and Gensler quote in the draft folder.”

“Hacker wouldn’t be someone to meticulously plan and prepare a graphic that is in the style of the SEC and also be dumb enough to just tweet a ticker like it’s a meme. So both things are true, and the approval announcement is lined up,” added Cochran. 

Related: Lawyers, politicians call for investigation of SEC over Bitcoin ETF post

Adding further to the likelihood of a hack, was the “likes” section of the SEC’s official account showed the page had engaged with two crypto-related accounts around the same time it posted the false announcement.  

The SEC’s ha page interacted with two crypto-related accounts as it posted the false announcement. Source: X

The price of Bitcoin whipsawed violently in the dwindling hours of Jan. 9 amid the controversy.

A spokesperson from the SEC told Cointelegraph that the agency’s staff played no role in publishing the false Bitcoin ETF tweet:

“The SEC’s @SECGov X/Twitter account has been compromised. The unauthorized tweet regarding Bitcoin ETFs was not made by the SEC or its staff.”

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