Vitalik Buterin really wants you to know that he isn’t dead.
Because Buterin is the cofounder of Ethereum, a bitcoin-like cryptocurrency that is wildly buzzy right now — and over the weekend, he was targeted by a hoax that claim he died in a car crash.
An article published on the website Vionews wrote: “The victims in the crash have been identified as Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, and 34-year old Travis Sellmon. Police told Local News two vehicles were involved in the crash that injured five people and killed two. Officers confirmed the Vitalik and Travis were travelling in separate vehicles.”
Buterin, meanwhile, took to Twitter to emphasise his continued existence — and used his creation Ethereum to do so.
To understand the tongue-in-cheek selfie above, you need to understand a little about how Ethereum — and other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin — work. They don’t have a central bank, and instead rely on a public ledger of all transactions shared between all the participants on the network. These are secured with complex cryptography, and the “blocks” have unique hashes.
That’s what Vitalik included in his selfie. It’s impossible to find out the hash for a block before it exists, so by posting it, it demonstrates that he wasn’t dead at the time that it was created — shortly before midnight on Sunday, June 25.
In short: It’s a really nerdy equivelant of holding up today’s newspaper to prove you’re still alive.
Over the last day the price of Ethereum has crashed 11%, down to around $US270. Last week, there was also an Ethereum flash crash, with the price plummeting from $US290 to 10 cents in a matter of minutes, before rebounding. Cryptocurrency markets are frothy and have recently set all-time-highs, amid concerns among some investors of a bubble.