Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin demonstrated a new blockchain technology earlier today called “Proof of Life” when he used the Ethereum blockchain to prove that he was indeed alive.
On June 25, the internet buzzed with rumors that Vitalik Buterin had died in a car accident. News of the death sent the price of Ethereum plummeting. In just a few hours, it wiped away $4 billion in market value.
The death hoax – like so many death hoaxes that have come before it – appears to have originated on 4chan.
To prove that he was still alive, Vitalik posted a selfie on social media. In that selfie, Vitalik is shown holding a piece of paper with an Ethereum block number and the corresponding hash.
That selfie didn’t hit the internet quite as quickly as Ethereum holders would have liked. News websites like VioNews reported on the hoax with scary titles like, “Vitalik Buterin Confirmed Dead in Deadly Car Crash” (the article has since been deleted).
With the rumor sweeping across social media, Ether’s price dropped below $300. By June 26, just before the selfie was posted, Ethereum was selling at around $230 – a 20% drop since the start of the day’s trading.
Some people claimed that the death hoax was unrelated to Ethereum’s crash, saying instead that it was related to the turmoil in the bitcoin community and the upcoming hard fork. As is always the case with the world of cryptocurrency, some people believe the sky is falling – and others believe tokens have nowhere to go but up.
At the time of writing, Ether’s price was still comparatively low based on where it’s traded the past few weeks. It’s currently trading at around $250 per token.
Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time someone has used blockchain technology to prove that they were alive. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange used the bitcoin blockchain as a “proof of life” tool during a Reddit AMA last January.
The Hoax Has Been Traced Back to a Single 4chan Thread
It’s amazing the impact that a single anonymous 4chan post can have on the world. That 4chan post – which is still available online on 4chan.org/biz/, was titled, “Vitalik Buterin Confirmed Dead. Insiders Unloading ETH.”
The poster, in a short message, described how Buterin was killed in a fatal car crash and that “he was the glue” of Ethereum:
“Fatal car crash. And now we have our answer. He was the glue. It will be difficult for ETH to recover and the entire crypto sphere is in big trouble.”
Some of the initial posters asked for a source, while others (likely participating in the hoax) repeated that it was true, saying things like, “WTF THIS IS REAL” and “It will be confirmed any time now.”
That single thread sent shockwaves across the internet.
In any case, Vitalik Buterin isn’t dead – and we have the proof of life selfie from the Ethereum blockchain to prove it.