The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has not yet given approval for a spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF).
On Jan. 9, the regulator said its X (formerly Twitter) account was compromised, leading to a false tweet suggesting that Bitcoin ETFs had been approved in the United States. The offending tweet was up for approximately 20 minutes before being taken down.
Various news outlets — including Cointelegraph, Blockworks and Reuters — initially reported on the tweet from the SEC. SEC Chair Gary Gensler tweeted 15 minutes later, revealing that the SEC’s account had been compromised.
The @SECGov twitter account was compromised, and an unauthorized tweet was posted. The SEC has not approved the listing and trading of spot bitcoin exchange-traded products.
— Gary Gensler (@GaryGensler) January 9, 2024
The incident caused the price of Bitcoin to surge roughly 2.5% to $47,901 before dropping roughly 7% to $44,701. Meanwhile, crypto X is continuing to speculate what this could mean for the SEC and anticipated Bitcoin ETF approvals.
Here’s a wrap-up of what has happened since:
SEC denies staff caused “unauthorized” post, but others skeptical
The regulator told Cointelegraph that its staff did not have any involvement in posting the “unauthorized” tweet.
“The SEC’s @SECGov X/Twitter account has been compromised. The unauthorized tweet regarding bitcoin ETFs was not made by the SEC or its staff.”
However, some community members don’t believe that and think it was simply a premature announcement — likely drafted and then sent out by mistake. They have tied this theory to the wording and construction of the post, which uses similar language that the SEC is known for.
Okay, hear me out. I think wording here is important.
Compromised isn’t always a hack.
Unauthorized tweet aren’t always false.
SEC has not approved the listing AND trading because… well, yeah, no decision had been (publicly) released yet.
Or… we’re fucked, see you under… https://t.co/E7Vcbh8XFR pic.twitter.com/1UnnPi8DEA
— Loma (@LomahCrypto) January 9, 2024
Others noted that certain elements of the post, such as the use of the Bitcoin hashtag and icon, liking posts other than SEC affiliated accounts, as well as the use of the word “Chair” to describe Gary Gensler’s position at the SEC, indicate the post was not made by SEC staff.
Lawyers and politicians call for investigation of SEC
Several United States lawyers and senators have called on Congress to demand an investigation into the securities regulator after the debacle.
“Just like the SEC would demand accountability from a public company if they made such a colossal market-moving mistake, Congress needs answers on what just happened. This is unacceptable,” said U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty in a Jan. 9 X post.
U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis also demanded the SEC offer some transparency into the events that led to the false post.
Fraudulent announcements, like the one that was made on the SEC’s social media, can manipulate markets. We need transparency on what happened.
— Senator Cynthia Lummis (@SenLummis) January 9, 2024
Charles Gasparino of Fox Business said he’s been told by securities lawyers that the SEC “will have to investigate itself” for market manipulation.
SEC to work with law enforcement to investigate hack
The SEC says it will work with law enforcement to investigate the recent unauthorized access to its X account and has confirmed that the unauthorized access has been terminated. X is also reportedly investigating the incident.
The initial post had at least 4.4 million views before it was taken down.
Update from an SEC spox: pic.twitter.com/EQzFgzEXic
— Leo Schwartz (@leomschwartz) January 9, 2024