David Z. Morris is CoinDesk's Chief Insights Columnist. He holds Bitcoin, Ethereum, and small amounts of other crypto assets.

UPDATE (Aug. 25, 2022 14:00 UTC): Hours after this editorial was published, Ben Armstrong, aka BitBoy, announced during a livestream that he would be withdrawing his lawsuit against Atozy, saying he was "sorry that this became public" and that "Atozy, you won." Erling Mengshoel Jr., aka Atozy, has said that once that withdrawal is formalized, he will be returning all donations made to his legal defense fund.

On Aug. 12, crypto influencer Ben Armstrong, aka “BitBoy Crypto,” filed a lawsuit against YouTuber Erling Mengshoel Jr., aka Atozy. In the suit BitBoy claims that Atozy’s November 2021 video titled “This Youtuber Scams His Fans … Bitboy Crypto” caused him harm, including damage to his business and “infliction of emotional distress.” BitBoy, who had been widely accused of unethical and irresponsible behavior long before Atozy’s video, seeks $75,000 in restitution.

This was, unambiguously, an extremely ill-advised move, and it is blowing up in BitBoy’s face in a truly poetic manner.

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Coverage of the lawsuit, almost all of it relentlessly negative towards BitBoy, has had far wider reach than Atozy’s original video. BitBoy is reaping the fallout of what’s become known as “the Streisand Effect,” when attempts to hide or suppress information have the opposite impact.

In this case, the information BitBoy would like to suppress is that he’s really terrible at his purported “job” of evaluating cryptocurrency projects for his YouTube followers. Atozy’s original video was focused on BitBoy’s promotion of Pamp Network, whose crypto, PAMP, would supposedly “only go up in price,” yet somehow dropped to zero soon after BitBoy’s endorsement. Crypto sleuth ZachXBT found back in January that a huge proportion of BitBoy-endorsed projects had lost immense value even before the current bear market downturn, quite likely costing his viewers serious amounts of money.

But that’s not just because BitBoy is bad at picking cryptos. He’s also deeply unethical, and quite possibly an outright criminal. ZachXBT revealed in January that many of BitBoy’s videos were not neutral evaluations of tokens, but undisclosed promotions paid for by the token creators themselves. This kind of “touting” is considered a form of fraud, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has regularly pursued violators under securities law. (BitBoy has since claimed he now discloses all paid promotions.)

So it’s all the more delicious to watch BitBoy’s little tantrum explode in his face like an Acme bomb.

Far from quashing or discouraging them, the lawsuit has taken allegations against BitBoy mainstream. Most dramatically, attacks on BitBoy are now spreading on YouTube far more widely than before the lawsuit. Atozy’s original video, posted in November 2021, had a little over 180,000 views at this writing – a respectable but not huge reach. But four days ago, the lawsuit was covered by Cr1TiKaL, aka Charles White Jr., a YouTuber with 11.2 million followers and all the mercy of a professional assassin.

“I’m not here to make any allegations,” CrITiKaL said of BitBoy. “I’m just here to make fun of him.”

That video already has 1.3 million views, roughly seven times as many as Atozy’s. And that’s just one reaction. It seems clear that BitBoy’s own lawsuit is turning him from a derided figure within the crypto industry into a mainstream punching bag.

Cr1TiKaL sums up the dynamic brilliantly in his reaction: “Every once in a while some pathetic, stinky worm decides it’s a good idea to try and legally strong-arm a YouTuber they don’t like … I always find it comical, because it never works out in their favor. … BitBoy’s lawsuit has done significantly more damage than Atozy could have ever done. Angrily filing a frivolous lawsuit on the internet is like publicly guillotining yourself. It’s reputational suicide.”

As if to pour salt on BitBoy’s wounded ego, Atozy has since put out a call for donations to fund his legal defense … and has already raised immensely more money than BitBoy sought in his original suit. Atozy has, at this writing, raised the following:

Grand Total: more than $184,000. If that seems like a lot for defense against a frivolous $75,000 nuisance lawsuit, it is. But feel free to donate more: Atozy has said he will pass any excess along to the highly reputable crypto policy group Coin Center.

More importantly, every dollar you donate will add to the weight of BitBoy’s humiliation. And he deserves it.

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David Z. Morris is CoinDesk's Chief Insights Columnist. He holds Bitcoin, Ethereum, and small amounts of other crypto assets.

David Z. Morris is CoinDesk's Chief Insights Columnist. He holds Bitcoin, Ethereum, and small amounts of other crypto assets.