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Finance blog Zero Hedge was banned from Twitter for Wuhan coronavirus misinformation. It’s not the first time the publication has raised eyebrows.

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  • Zero Hedge, a financial blog that rose to popularity in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, was permanently suspended from Twitter for what the platform deemed as spreading misinformation over the Wuhan coronavirus.
  • The site has been described as „far-right“ and „pro-Trump“ after it was first established as a strong voice offering counter-culture takes in finance and politics.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The financial blog Zero Hedge was permanently suspended from Twitter on Friday after it published an article identifying a Chinese scientist it claimed created the deadly Wuhan coronavirus.

A report from Buzzfeed News first captured on the controversy, which labeled Zero Hedge a „far-right“ and „pro-Trump“ news site, reflecting the long way the site has come since it began posting insider financial knowledge and humor in around the 2008 financial collapse.

Since its rise to popularity among Wall Street insiders, Zero Hedge has since become best known for its sensationalist headlines and gruff take on the world’s news.

Here’s the history of the controversial publication.


The blog rose to prominence after the 2008 financial crisis.

Foto: sourceHenny Ray Abrams/AP Photo

The small site began as a platform for an anonymous blogger that posted a mix of financial musings, doomsday predictions for major players, and high-level market intelligence and data.

New York Magazine later reported that a major moment came in Spring 2008, when the site posted a claim that Goldman Sachs was using computers to siphon hundreds of millions of dollars in illegitimate trading profits from the New York Stock Exchange, invisibly undercutting the market and sidestepping the regulatory reach of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The post didn’t initially raise eyebrows in the mainstream, but it earned its cred when a former programmer for the investment bank was arrested for allegedly stealing codes that a federal prosecutor said could be used to „manipulate markets in unfair ways.“

The blog post found its way across the city’s financial and media gossip chains, and the New York Times later published a front-page article on so-called high-frequency trading and its potential abuses that triggered a letter from Sen. Chuck Schumer, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, to the SEC that same day. Twelve days later, the SEC signaled that it was considering a ban on the very computerized trading that Zero Hedge had attacked.


Despite the massive waves caused by the blog’s apparent insider information, the identities behind the site remained a mystery.

Foto: sourceYouTube / 20th Century Fox

Zero Hedge’s approach could be easily summed up by the tagline displayed at the top of the site, which claims „On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.“

This is a line from the 1999 movie Fight Club, which also earned a nod in the site’s leading byline, „Tyler Durden,“ the name of Brad Pitt’s anarchist character in the film, who is seen blowing up the headquarters of major credit-card companies.

Reports in 2009 pointed to Daniel Ivandjiiski, a Bulgarian-born former analyst and hedge fund employee who was banned from Wall Street for insider trading in 2008.

A 2016 Bloomberg article revealed that „Durden“ was actually three people who were running the infamous blog.

Then-32-year-old Colin Lokey told the outlet that he was behind the site, along with Ivandjiiski and Tim Backshall, a well-known derivatives strategist.


In the years after the financial crash, the site had a bonafide social presence and a solidified place among financial insiders.

Foto: sourceScreenshot via Zero Hedge

„Tyler Durden“ became an oft-cited source and contributor on mainstream financial talk shows and websites in the years after breaking the story on Goldman Sachs.

By 2014, Zero Hedge’s Twitter account had 215,000 followers and had an international audience, CNN reported at the time.

„It’s extremely influential in the New York, London, and global hedge fund community,“ Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx Group, a brokerage firm, told CNN. „I meet clients in London and they mention it, and I meet regulators in Washington and they mention it.“

At its peak, before the Zero Hedge Twitter account was deleted, it had 670,000 followers.


Lokey told Bloomberg that the other men tightly controlled what and how he was told to write.

Foto: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin speaks at the victory ceremony at an Annual International Vladivostok Jigoro Kano Cadet Judo Tournament at Fetisov Arena, on Day 2 of the 2018 Eastern Economic ForumsourceMikhail KlimentyevTASS via Getty Images

Lokey told the outlet that he wrote much of the site’s political content, but he was tightly constricted in the framing of the articles for specific causes and courses of political thought.

„I tried to inject as much truth as I could into my posts, but there’s no room for it,“ Lokey told Bloomberg. „Russia=good. Obama=idiot. Bashar al-Assad=benevolent leader. John Kerry= dunce. Vladimir Putin=greatest leader in the history of statecraft.“

Ivandjiiski disputed that description, telling the outlet that Lokey could write „anything and everything he wanted directly without anyone writing over it.“

In April 2016, Lokey had told Ivandjiiski over text that he was leaving the controversial site over his ideology concerns.

„I can’t be a 24-hour cheerleader for Hezbollah, Moscow, Tehran, Beijing, and Trump anymore. It‘ s wrong. Period. I know it gets you views now, but it will kill your brand over the long run,“ Lokey texted Ivandjiiski. „This isn’t a revolution. It’s a joke.“

A massive article posted on the site shortly after the Bloomberg article’s debut features text messages between the two to dispute all of Lokey’s claims and re-iterate the site’s manifesto.


The tell-all report made a splash, but the site kept humming.

Foto: sourceScreenshot/Twitter

Lokey’s claims about the site’s alleged ideology campaigns came in the same year as the 2016 US presidential elections, which put a spotlight on the information flooding voters from the endless amounts of online sources.

Some efforts to root out fake or targeted right-wing news came in broad-strikes moves from social media platforms like Facebook, which in March 2019 appeared to be preventing Zero Hedge’s articles from being shared by users.

The social network reportedly called the block „a mistake,“ and the articles could be shared after a few days.

The site persisted in applying its signature stance to covering news into 2020, as its homepage on February 1 included stories on environmental activist Greta Thunberg as an „angry 17-year-old girl,“ attacks on „white privilege“ within „cancel culture,“ and a conspiracy theory on murdered Democratic staffer Seth Rich.


The coronavirus scientist story is just the site’s latest foray into news-based controversy.

Foto: Passengers wearing masks, amid the new coronavirus outbreak, are checked by Iraqi Health Ministry employees upon their arrival at Basra airport, in BasrasourceReuters

The article, titled „Is This The Man Behind The Global Coronavirus Pandemic?“ was published Wednesday, and speculated that the virus was developed in a lab by a scientist working at Wuhan’s Institute of Virology, whose phone number and email were published in the story.

„If anyone wants to find out what really caused the coronavirus pandemic that has infected thousands of people in China and around the globe, they should probably pay [the scientist’s name] a visit,“ the story read.

The story doesn’t provide any specific evidence to blame the lab beyond a press release on the scientist’s work studying why bats which carry the coronavirus don’t get sick.

As for official theories on the spread of the virus, Zero Hedge says they are a „fabricated farce.“

A spokesperson for Twitter told BuzzFeed that „the account was permanently suspended for violating our platform manipulation policy.“



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Coronavirus: Tech firm Bloom Energy fixes broken US ventilators

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Governor Gavin NewsomImage copyright
EPA

Image caption

California’s governor announced Bloom Energy’s success at its Sunnyvale, California campus

A Californian company that usually makes green-energy fuel cells is due to deliver 170 repaired ventilators to Los Angeles later on Monday after transforming its manufacturing process.

An engineer at Bloom Energy downloaded the service manual and taught himself how to dismantle and rebuild them in a day, the Los Angeles Times reported.

They had been in storage since the H5N1 bird flu outbreak of the mid-2000s.

Bloom says it is now working to find other stockpiles of disused machines.

On Saturday, as California Governor Gavin Newsom visited the manufacturing plant, he said: “We got a car and a truck and had [them] brought here to this facility at 08:00 this morning.

“And Monday, they’ll have those ventilators back into Los Angeles all fixed. That’s the spirit of California.”

Mr Newsom said the the original manufacturers had initially told him it would take a month to fix 200 ventilators, which help patients breathe if they are having difficulties due to Covid-19 or other diseases.

He said he told Bloom: “We challenge you to do more and do better.”

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

And on 22 March, the company’s chief executive, KR Sridhar, sent the governor a photo of 24 finished ventilators ready to be certified for use.

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Bloom Energy hopes its efforts will save the lives of coronavirus patients with respiratory problems

Mr Sridhar told CNBC: “We think we can do hundreds of ventilators – close to 1,000 ventilators – a week of refurbishment.

“This is the fastest way – we can take existing ventilators that are out there, get them working, get them back to the hospitals.”

  • What are ventilators and why are they important?
  • Mercedes F1 to make breathing aid

The strategy contrasts with that of the UK, which is seeking to make thousands of new machines in partnership with manufacturing companies.

The UK has about 8,000 ventilators available and has placed orders for the same number again from existing manufacturers

Dyson has also received an order for 10,000 units of a new design – if it passes regulatory hurdles.

But manufacturers have said they will not be able to meet demand if coronavirus infections peak in the coming weeks.



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Facebook Aims $100 Million at Media Hit by the Coronavirus

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Facebook announced on Monday that it would dole out $25 million in grants to local news outlets and spend $75 million in a marketing drive aimed at news organizations internationally in response to the coronavirus-prompted economic downturn, which has caused advertising to plummet and has threatened media industry revenues.

Despite huge interest in news that has led to traffic surges and a rise in digital subscription sign-ups, the media industry has seen cutbacks as advertising has dropped sharply. Some alt-weeklies have laid off as many as three-quarters of their employees. BuzzFeed and American Media Inc. have instituted pay cuts. In Louisiana, The Advocate and The Times-Picayune have furloughed some staff and put the rest on four-day workweeks.

The money announced Monday will come on top of $300 million that Facebook, one of the world’s largest tech platforms and a critical digital news gatekeeper, pledged last year to invest in local news by the end of 2021.

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president for global news partnerships, said in a post, “If people needed more proof that local journalism is a vital public service, they’re getting it now.”

In an interview, Ms. Brown said Facebook felt obliged to help local news organizations weather the downturn. The outbreak has punished many of them financially while they perform risky journalism on an essential topic. Many of them have posted their coverage outside their paywalls.

At the same time, increased traffic and subscriptions have not made up for advertising shortfalls.

“We have begun to make progress,” she said, “subscriptions have begun to increase, but there’s still a gap there, and if we can fill that gap, then we have a responsibility to do it.”

Part of a $1 million Facebook grant announced two weeks ago helped The Post and Courier newspaper of South Carolina cover remote work costs for its journalists and expand its coverage across the state, Facebook said.

News outlets have long seen Facebook as an adversary. The social media giant and Google, the search company, dominate digital ad revenue, squeezing the bottom lines of traditional media.

Moreover, Facebook is built on users’ sharing enticing content, including news articles. That gave the company an incredible amount of leverage over publishers, as a few tweaks to its algorithm could, like turning a spigot, direct traffic away from or to news articles. In recent years, the central News Feed pivoted away from an emphasis on hard news. (“News Feed isn’t about news. It’s still mostly about friends and family,” Ms. Brown said.)



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Amazing Technology|Experiment: Fish Vs Coca Cola Vs Mentos Vs Fanta Vs Sprite Catch Fishes From Hole

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Amazing Technology|Experiment: Fish Vs Coca Cola Vs Mentos Vs Fanta Vs Sprite Catch Fishes From Hole

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