Newsweek writer Leah McGrath Goodman sparked a controversy in the bitcoin community Thursday morning with her cover story that identified the mystery-shrouded creator of the cybercurrency. She didn’t expect such an intense reaction to her scoop. The story, “The Face Behind Bitcoin,” profiled Satoshi Nakamoto, a 64-year-old Japanese-American engineer living a humble life in Temple City, Calif.
Almost immediately upon publication, the story blew up and ignited debate over anonymity and the right to privacy, both cornerstones of the alternate currency philosophy. Prominent bitcoin advocates and commenters on Reddit both praised Goodman’s story and demonized her for the sin of “doxxing” (releasing personal information about someone) a person who removed himself from the bitcoin project; Nakamoto has not been involved with the cryptocurrency since mid-2010.
Goodman tells IBTimes TV that she expected her story would open up dialogue about Nakamoto, adding that it was intended as almost a tribute to a man who “invented something that shaped our world.” She thought that readers would celebrate Nakamoto for his genius. But she didn’t anticipate the outrage and the anger from commenters, some of whom lashed out by publishing personal information about her, while other Redditors claimed that her story “basically slapped a target on [Nakamoto’s] back.”
Gavin Andresen, the chief scientist behind the protocol, spoke with Goodman for the article about his connection to Nakamoto. In the piece he comments on how Nakamoto disliked the negative connotation the cryptocurrency was receiving. However, in the hours after the story broke, Andresen tweeted, “I'm disappointed Newsweek decided to dox the Nakamoto family, and regret talking to Leah.”
IBTimes’ Cameron Fuller sat down with Goodman to discuss the intentions and possible ramifications of the profile and the community outcry, both good and bad. From her candid responses, it is clear that she is fond of both Nakamoto and his family, and that she wishes to create a place of reverence for the inventor.