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The FUD Behind the Crypto Collapse

Sam Bankman-Fried and Binance’s Changpeng Zhao were ostensible partners before Zhao helped blow the whistle on Bankman-Fried’s failures. The bad feelings go back for years.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao.

Photographer: Vincent Isore/IP3/Zuma Press

Committed crypto investors have long had a ready response to people who criticize digital currencies: They’re spreading “FUD”—an acronym that stands for “fear, uncertainty and doubt.” The idea behind it is that anyone who expresses skepticism of crypto must be doing so for competitive reasons.

This is nonsense for the most part, though it may be the kind of nonsense that’s useful for crypto stalwarts. Digital currency critics, in general, aren’t promoting rival tokens or shorting Bitcoin. Sincere believers, who say they’re in it for the long run, shouldn’t care about short-term price swings. But calling out FUD serves as an easy comeback when confronted with the industry’s obvious shortcomings, and no one has embraced this mode with quite the zeal of Changpeng Zhao, chief executive officer of Binance and the industry’s richest person.