Ben Armstrong, who is also known as ‘BitBoy Crypto’, failed to appear in court on April 20th, as ordered by federal magistrate judge Melissa Damian. The court appearance was supposed to be in response to the YouTuber’s alleged harassment of counsel in a lawsuit involving several crypto influencers. BitBoy Crypto openly mocked the order on social media, instead tweeting pictures of himself on a beach in the Bahamas. Armstrong’s attorney, who was in attendance, was warned by Judge Damian that she would issue a warrant for his arrest if he failed to appear by April 24th. The harassment case against Armstrong moved forward without him, and the judge reportedly referred the matter to the FBI.
Individuals affected by the collapse of FTX filed a class-action lawsuit against Armstrong and several other YouTubers in March for allegedly promoting fraud through the exchange “without disclosing compensation.” The lead attorney representing the plaintiffs in that case claimed that Armstrong harassed the legal team with “endless phone calls, tweets and emails,” voicemails “full of vulgarities,” and social media posts suggesting threats.
Amid court proceedings on April 20th, BitBoy Crypto continued to mock the harassment case and Moskowitz, the lead attorney representing the plaintiffs in the FTX lawsuit. However, he hinted that his absence from court may have been with the advice of counsel. He reportedly offered through counsel to appear before the judge in May. As part of the judge’s order on April 20th, Armstrong will reportedly be barred from tweeting about Moskowitz and the plaintiffs in the case. He previously compared the lawyer to an ambulance chaser and a pig in addition to largely dismissing the basis of the lawsuit.
BitBoy Crypto is a crypto influencer with more than 1 million followers on Twitter and 1.4 million YouTube subscribers. He is no stranger to online controversy and has insulted high-profile figures including European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chair Gary Gensler in addition to others affecting policy in the space.
This recent incident generates a pertinent question: how should influencers in the cryptocurrency industry conduct themselves? While their contributions to shining light on various projects and trends within the space are undoubtedly important, influencers should also remember that their following grants them power and responsibility. In addition, as the industry continues to mature and establish itself as a legitimate player in the global economy, it will necessarily adapt to the laws of the countries in which it operates.
This means that crypto influencers should be aware of the laws that apply to them, particularly those concerning compensation for promoting certain projects. This is particularly salient given the recent lawsuit against BitBoy Crypto and other YouTubers for allegedly promoting fraud through FTX without disclosing compensation.
In addition, influencers should conduct themselves with a sense of humility and responsibility. Just like traditional journalists, they have the power to influence public perception and should take that responsibility seriously. As the cryptocurrency industry continues to grow, we will likely see a growing demand for influencers in the space. It is incumbent on both the influencers themselves and their audience to ensure that they are acting ethically and responsibly.
There are several steps that can be taken to ensure that influencers in the cryptocurrency space are held accountable for their actions. One option is for platforms such as Twitter and YouTube to implement clearer guidelines on what constitutes harassment and abuse. Another option is for projects to be more transparent about their relationships with influencers, particularly when it comes to compensation.
It’s also worth noting that the cryptocurrency industry itself has a responsibility to ensure that influencers are acting ethically. This can involve taking action against influencers who engage in unethical behavior, as well as implementing stricter regulations and guidelines for how projects interact with influencers. While the industry is still in its early stages, it’s important to establish these standards before bad actors are able to cause widespread harm.
Ultimately, influencers in the cryptocurrency space should be aware of the power and responsibility that comes with their following. While it can be tempting to engage in reckless behavior or mock legal proceedings, the consequences of such actions can be severe. As the industry continues to grow, it will be important for all players – including influencers – to conduct themselves with a sense of responsibility and accountability.