Female crypto influencers that have spoken up about gender inequality in the blockchain space have recently had their Instagram accounts removed. Cointelegraph previously reported that three female crypto influencers — Rachel Siegel, Lea Thompson and Catalina Castro Lagos — were mysteriously removed from Instagram following Siegel’s comments on Twitter about the underrepresentation of women in the crypto community.
The remarks from Siegel were made in response to Binance only including one woman (herself) as a nominee for their global influencer awards. Lagos was one of only two women to be in contention for the award for the Latin America region.
Siegel, better known as CryptoFinally on social media, told Cointelegraph that backlash from the crypto community began in June of this year following a video she posted on Twitter regarding gender disparity. “I received an extreme amount of backlash from the crypto community for making this video. People started viewing me as an angry feminist,” she said.
After posting her video on women being underrepresented and even harassed in the crypto community, Siegel began to livestream regularly with Thompson (GirlGoneCrypto) and Lagos (TechWithCatalina) to discuss cryptocurrency and blockchain developments. Siegel explained that backlash from the crypto community eventually settled down when she began to focus strictly on the news.
However, numerous negative remarks were made following her video regarding Binance’s decision to nominate just one woman for its global influencer awards and only two women for their Latin America influencer awards. Siegel said:
“There are many women in the crypto space with influence, so when I heard these numbers I pointed out the gender discrepancy. We are looking at a global scale of women in crypto and saying that out of the entire world, 25 people were selected and I was the only woman with enough merit to make it on the global list. This points to a much larger problem we have in this space when it comes to representing women.”
Binance co-founder, Yi He, told Cointelegraph that there were actually a total of 18 women nominated for the Binance influencer awards. However, Siegel was nominated for the Binance influencer award by a community vote, along with other regional influencers like Kaká Furlan and Carol Souza — hosts of the UseCripto YouTube channel — as well as Dovey Wan and Anthruine Xiang. As Yi He said:
“The influencer nomination and selection process are fully driven by the community, not both the community and Binance team as it was originally reported by Cointelegraph. Additionally, the community-nominated and community-voted influencer awards have limited slots. For example, Miss Bitcoin (Mai) is an important part of the crypto community who has led impactful philanthropy efforts in Japan; there are many great influencers and women leaders in our space who may not have been represented for awards that are limited in categories.”
Yi He further noted that Binance respects the point Siegel made on Twitter, noting that Binance will ensure more diverse nominees and influencers while balancing their community-driven votes.
Is the crypto community to blame?
While Binance’s influencer awards are purely community-driven, this could further highlight Siegel’s thesis that gender discrimination is very much present within the crypto community. Siegel explained that she does not blame Binance in any way for the nomination process, noting that community voice in the blockchain space is extremely important.
However, Siegel did note that the crypto community has exhibited inappropriate behavior toward women over time, a point that could be connected with the recent Instagram ban of Siegel and three other female influencers.
Shortly after posting her video on Twitter regarding the Binance influencer awards, Siegel’s Instagram account was banned. Oddly enough, Thompson’s and Lago’s Instagram accounts were also removed that same day, on July 6.
Yet according to Siegel, this wasn’t just a coincidence. She thinks someone or a group of people reported all three women’s accounts to Instagram in hopes that they would be taken down, as Siegel explained:
“I think that someone in the crypto community mass reported all three of us. Instagram has a very bad backend for when it comes to these reports, meaning that if enough reports are made, they will automatically ban users. Instagram would be the easiest place to perform an attack like this, instead of on Twitter for instance.”
Siegel also explained that comments have been made across social media platforms that show users making negative and sexually harassing remarks towards women in the crypto space. For example, on the bulletin board website 4chan, there is an inappropriate comment posted underneath a photo taken of Siegel alongside Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin.
Siegel further noted, “There has been quite a few comments on my recent tweet from people saying they want to get female influencers like us banned from social media.”
Interestingly, another woman influencer in the crypto space, who recently did a live stream with Siegel, Thompson and Lagos, also had her Instagram account taken down on July 6. CEO of the Bitcoin Center in Miami, Eryka Gemma, told Cointelegraph that Instagram won’t let her log into her account anymore. Gemma originally received a message from Instagram saying that her profile had been disabled for violating community terms.
On July 7, Gemma received another message from Instagram saying that her account had been disabled for “pretending to be someone else.” This is strange considering I did a livestream with Siegel, Thompson and Lagos the week prior,” Gemma remarked. Meanwhile, a now-deleted account stated that the 4chan community was responsible for inciting the bans:
Siegel, Thompson and Lagos’ accounts were also removed for impersonation. Due to the fact that all four women had their Instagram accounts removed on the same day for the same reason gives Siegel and the other women reason to believe that members from the crypto community organized an attack in response to recent remarks on gender discrimation. At the time of publication, all four women’s Instagram accounts are still down. Siegel commented:
“This is less about losing our accounts and more about the notion that this is an unfair attempt at silencing women in blockchain. Additionally, it’s not about influencers being deserving of respect, but about human decency in our industry. Absolutely nobody deserves to be harassed and attacked to the extent of which I’ve seen online in our community.”
Ensuring women have a seat at the table
A recent report from CoinMarketCap revealed the number of women in the crypto space increased by 43.24% during the first quarter of 2020. In addition, a study conducted last December by Grayscale found that 43% of investors interested in Bitcoin are women, up by 13% compared to 2018.
While it is uplifting to see new statistics showing an increase of women in the crypto and blockchain space, the community must be inviting toward women to ensure this number grows. Yi He from Binance explained that hiring female executives is one way to make sure that women’s involvement grows, noting that women make up about 40% of the workforce at Binance, many of which are executives like her.
In addition, the enterprise blockchain space also appears to be attracting more women. A recent diversity survey conducted by Hyperledger found that 13% of survey respondents were women. In 2017, only 5% of women participated in the same survey.
Senior technology architect at Accenture, Tracy Kuhrt, gave a lecture at Hyperledger Global Forum 2020 entitled, “Letting Go of Your Unconscious Bias,” with diversity and inclusion being major talking points. Kuhrt told Cointelegraph that the enterprise blockchain space in particular is vested in diversity:
“We all have a part to play, big or small, in increasing the diversity within the enterprise blockchain space. It could be something as simple as making someone feel welcome and encouraging them to participate, to mentoring and acting as a role model. It’s difficult to be what we can’t see, and for that reason we must prioritize expanding who is in the blockchain community.”
As for Siegel, who has been involved in the crypto community for a few years now, she expressed excitement for the direction in which the space is heading. “I believe in standing tall for diversity and inclusion, and having these conversations is important. I’m glad that we’re doing it,” she said.