SEC Has Not Approved Bitcoin ETFs, but Its Hacked X Account Briefly Said Otherwise

The X account of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which is deciding whether to approve bitcoin ETFs, "was compromised," the regulator told CoinDesk.

AccessTimeIconJan 9, 2024 at 9:31 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 9, 2024 at 1:48 a.m. UTC

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed it has not approved bitcoin ETF applications – contradicting its X (formerly Twitter) account briefly saying otherwise.

"The SEC's @SECGov X/Twitter account has been compromised," a spokesperson said in a statement to CoinDesk. "The unauthorized tweet regarding bitcoin ETFs was not made by the SEC or its staff."

In a separate statement shared later, a spokesperson said "there was unauthorized access to and activity on" the account by an "unknown party." The party no longer has that unauthorized access, the statement said.

"The SEC will work with law enforcement and our partners across government to investigate the matter and determine appropriate next steps relating to both the unauthorized access and any related misconduct," the statement said.

X's Safety team said early Wednesday morning UTC that the SECgov account did not have two-factor authentication enabled, and the attacker was able to gain control over a phone number tied to the account.

For full coverage of bitcoin ETFs, click here.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler on his own X account said the ETFs have not been authorized. "The SEC has not approved the listing and trading of spot bitcoin exchange-traded products," he said.

The regulator is widely expected to approve spot bitcoin ETF applications on Wednesday. An SEC spokesperson told CoinDesk last week that any approval for bitcoin ETFs would appear in the agency's EDGAR database; X was not given as a means of communicating the decision.

"Any Commission 19b-4 orders will be posted on our website and then published in the Federal Register," the spokesperson said.

The compromised @SECgov X account had tweeted: "Today the SEC grants approval for #Bitcoin ETFs for listing on all registered national securities exchanges. The approved Bitcoin ETFs will be subject to ongoing surveillance and compliance measures to ensure continued investor protection."

It included a graphic with a quote purportedly from Gensler. The account also posted a second tweet that just said "$BTC," but this post was almost immediately deleted.

A since-deleted tweet from the official SEC X/Twitter account. (SEC via X)
A since-deleted tweet from the official SEC X/Twitter account. (SEC via X)

Bitcoin (BTC) first jumped to nearly $48,000 immediately after the social media post, then plummeted nearly 6% to $45,100 when the news turned out to be false.

The volatile period wiped out over $50 million of leveraged derivatives trading positions within an hour, CoinGlass data shows.

Bitcoin price (CoinDesk)
Bitcoin price (CoinDesk)

UPDATE (Jan. 9, 2024, 21:40 UTC): Adds additional detail.

UPDATE (Jan. 9, 21:50 UTC): Adds graphics, context on where an ETF approval may actually appear.

UPDATE (Jan. 9, 23:45 UTC): Adds additional SEC statement.

UPDATE (Jan. 10, 04:35 UTC): Adds X Safety comment.

Edited by Nick Baker.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

Krisztian  Sandor

Krisztian Sandor is a reporter on the U.S. markets team focusing on stablecoins and institutional investment. He holds BTC and ETH.

Read more about