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In the late ’90s and early 2000s, the tech industry struggled to gain control of the future — and Microsoft had a reputation for using dirty corporate fraud to win its share.
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It has been accused of filing lawsuits to smear competitors and delegitimize competitors by planting fake error codes in their software running on Windows. If the allegations Microsoft has faced in various antitrust lawsuits are true, then the company was engaging in a particularly hardball version of a classic FUD campaign.
The acronym predates Bill Gates by decades. It has many contexts, and whether you realize it or not, FUD probably affects your crypto decisions and your entire financial life.
What is FUD in Slang?
FUD stands for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt,” and it represents the tactic of sowing discord and spreading false information to discredit a person, product, organization, concept, or movement in the public eye.
Whistleblowers often face ugly FUD campaigns when they become a threat to power. The FBI and CIA were notorious for using FUD tactics in the 1960s to discredit perceived enemies. FUD is spread from every angle on any issue that has even the remotest political tinge, from climate change to voting rights.
Although the concept is nothing new, the acronym gained prominence in recent years when it was applied to a new, unfamiliar and widely understood form of digital capital – cryptocurrency.
What Does Fudding Mean in Crypto?
In the early 2010s, when terms like “blockchain,” “mining,” and “decentralized currency” were just beginning to percolate into the public consciousness, much of what mainstream audiences knew about cryptocurrency was based on FUD.
Bitcoin as the preferred currency of online criminals
Many people were first introduced to Bitcoin when the FBI shut down Silk Road and seized 144,000 BTC, which at the time was worth about $28.5 million.
What was true was that Silk Road, a website operating on the dark web, provided a public market for illegal activities, particularly the open buying and selling of illegal drugs. Also true was the fact that bitcoin was the site’s medium of exchange.
The FUD was that bitcoin is completely untraceable and anonymous – it never was – and that criminals developed it to create an underground currency for black market transactions in the dark corners of the internet that were beyond the reach of law enforcement.
That association with criminality stigmatized cryptocurrency with FUD for years to come.
Bitcoin traders are one hack away from ruin
In 2014, hackers successfully attacked Mount Gox, the world’s largest crypto exchange, making off with $460 million worth of bitcoins in the largest crypto heist to date.
All of this is true, but the moment served as many people’s first introduction to cryptocurrency, and the scandal fueled a deluge of FUD that painted cryptocurrency as an illegal, unsafe, and insecure online toy that never passes as “real money.” couldn’t count
Like Silk Road, the Mt. Gox scandal mired the industry in FUD-based misinformation and public mistrust for years to come.
Government Regulators vs Online Anarchists
Thanks to Mount Gox and Silk Road, crypto entered the mainstream consciousness mostly on a wave of negative press. In the public imagination, cryptocurrency has been a tool of anonymous online anarchists trying to upend the world’s financial markets and replace global fiat currency with untraceable online alt-money.
At the same time, governments and regulators were unsure how to respond to an unregulated alternative currency. In the US and beyond, officials have begun talking about regulating and taxing crypto. China launched a series of highly publicized restrictions and crackdowns that eventually led to outright bans.
In reality, most crypto investors wanted and welcomed rules and oversight, and governments had legitimate concerns about security and consumer protection. But widespread FUD has created the image of crypto traders as online pirates targeted for destruction by powerful global forces — not exactly the type of environment that attracts prudent mainstream investors.
The fudging of individual tokens
As tens of thousands of altcoins have followed bitcoin to market, crypto FUD has shifted from industry-wide macro-level misinformation to targeting individual tokens.
In the late 2010s, “keep your coins and ignore the FUD” became a popular meme among Bitcoin enthusiasts. “Hodl” originated as a typo of the word “hold” but became a crypto-initialism for “holding on for dear life” – resisting the urge to sell an asset even when ‘ a public tide rises against it.
In those days, Bitcoin faced enormous FUD that said it was in a bubble, that it had no functional utility, that it was unsustainably energy inefficient, and that more useful tokens like ethereum would soon phase it out.
Bitcoin remains the world’s largest cryptocurrency, but it—and thousands of competing altcoins—are still mired in FUD.
A single tweet from Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian or another crypto influencer can stigmatize a token with FUD, as can one negative report from an industry analyst or a report that a major company will pay in a certain token begin to accept
What does FUD mean in sales?
The FUD concept is as old as time, but the acronym itself emerged in marketing, sales and public relations literature in the 1970s. Back then, brands weren’t trying to spread FUD – they were trying to counter it by using marketing techniques to change negative consumer perceptions about their products or industries.
Selling is all about changing minds, and salespeople can use the power of FUD to convince prospects that:
- A competitor’s offers are weaker than they appear.
- A competitor’s finances or management are unstable.
- Their data or personal information could be at risk if they don’t buy a product or service or if they buy a competitor’s instead.
- They will lose their only opportunity to buy a product if they don’t buy now.
- They will miss out on a too-good-to-be-true sale.
- Their quality of life will suffer if they don’t buy a product.
- Buying a product or not buying a product can make them or their families unsafe.
- Prices are going to go up soon.
- Cheaper alternatives will end up costing them more in the long run.
- A controversial ingredient or component – such as sugar, plastic or gluten – is either worse than or not as bad as they might think, depending on whether they or a competitor are the ones selling it.
- Support for an older product may be discontinued soon.
- Competitors are associated with dishonest or unethical suppliers, partners or governments.
- They may lose preferred customer status if they do not make a follow-up purchase.
What is FUD in cybersecurity?
FUD has been a part of cybersecurity since the dawn of the digital age. Every new breach or hack generates FUD-based panic about the security of private data, finances or online identities – and it’s not hard to understand why.
Large institutions with enormous resources such as Target, Microsoft, Facebook, Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase and Equifax have all fallen victim to sophisticated data breaches. Celebrities have been the victims of hacks that have resulted in their most intimate and private photos being spread online for all to see. Whistleblowers have proven that major software companies worked surreptitiously to give governments or law enforcement access to data or devices found in millions of homes.
With all of this in mind, it’s not hard to understand why FUD can make it difficult for cybersecurity professionals to convince average people that they can keep them safe.
Cut through the FUD
FUD is most closely associated with crypto, but its effects are present in every area of the investment and financial world. FUD is based on emotion, and emotional investing is a recipe for disaster.
To cut through the FUD, base all investment decisions on strategy and analysis, not social media chatter, news stories, memes, or the herd mentality.
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