The Twitter account of one of Bitcoin’s greatest historical figures just came back to life after over a decade of inactivity.
“This is Fran Finney,” tweeted Hal Finney’s Twitter handle, “halfin,” on Friday. “I am tweeting for Hal to avoid his account being purged by Elon.”
Hal Finney is one of the earliest Bitcoin testers to corroborate with the network’s anonymous founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, in its early days. On January 12 2009, he received 10 Bitcoin from Satoshi—the first Bitcoin transfer ever conducted. Indeed, many today within the Bitcoin community believe Finney likely was Satoshi—or at least part of a group of developers behind the pseudonym.
Finney passed away from a fatal disease in August 2014, leaving both him and Satoshi absent from Bitcoin’s future development. As such, the Bitcoin faithful treat Finney’s old messages, tweets, and forum posts as treasured artifacts—as they do messages signed by Satoshi.
One particularly popular message was his announcement tweet that he was “running Bitcoin” on January 10, 2009. By his own account, he may have been the second person to run the software after Satoshi himself.
Naturally, the sudden revival of Finney’s caught some by surprise. Jameson Lopp—co-founder and CEO of Bitcoin security and wallet company Casa—initially suggested the account may have been compromised after realizing it had recently followed his own Twitter account.
Others were quick to point out, however, that Finney’s account may have been reactivated by someone who controls it to avoid it being “purged by Elon.” Hal’s wife, Fran Finney, confirmed herself that this was indeed the case.
Since taking over Twitter, Elon Musk has promised to delete over 1.5 billion Twitter accounts in order to free up certain Twitter handles for newer, more active owners. “These are obvious account deletions with no tweets & no log-in for years,” he said on December 9.
His announcement sparked concern among Bitcoiners, who worried that such a policy could allow accounts like Finney’s to fall through the cracks. After Fran reactivated the handle, the community was quick to offer thanks.
Finney was a cypherpunk—meaning he believed in using cryptography to guarantee freedom and privacy for all. He also lived in the same town as Dorian Nakamoto, the man Newsweek very famously and very incorrectly said was Satoshi, for about 10 years.
For what it’s worth, Finney denied claims he was the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin before his passing—exactly the sort of thing Satoshi would do.
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