Google searches for the term “BTC” are spiking to historic levels – a development some say could be a result of manipulation.
Google Trends indicates worldwide BTC search totals have surged well beyond what they were during Bitcoin’s record-setting bull run in late 2017. Interestingly, however, searches for Bitcoin have remained stagnant.
Bendik Norheim Schei, an analyst at Arcane Crypto, says in a piece in Kryptografe that such a disparity could be the result of manipulation.
“There are several reasons why these results are strange. For one, this jump is completely uncorrelated with the bitcoin price. In the past, search history has followed the price movements. Today, the price is close to half of what it was on the previous ‘search peak’.
Second, and perhaps the main reason for the suspicion of manipulation, we see no particular change in the search for the word ‘bitcoin’. Since ‘bitcoin’ is the main way to refer to the cryptocurrency, it is clear that this should have followed the same movements as the abbreviation, ‘BTC’.”
Schei also points out that in places like Romania, the United States, Hong Kong, Norway, Argentina and Thailand, searches appear to spike around 3 a.m. every night.
“It is difficult to give any clear answer to this. It is reasonable to assume that someone is behind these radical changes. That the same pattern can be seen all over the world may indicate that VPN services have been used to distribute the search across the world, thus achieving a global trend.
Google Trends points out that changes have been relatively large in Romania. Is this the source, or is it just because there have been fewer searches for BTC previously?
Whatever the answer is – something very strange has happened to the interest in the keyword ‘BTC’ this past week.”
Glen Goodman, a UK-based financial investor and the author of Bitcoin investment book, The Crypto Trader, echoes Schei, telling Forbes that someone is “trying to game the trading algorithms.”
“There are algorithms programmed to look at Google Trends data and try to find correlations between numbers of searches for the word ‘BTC’ and the movements in the bitcoin price.
If they detect patterns, it may be profitable to trade off that data. This hacker may be buying some BTC, then sending a ton of ‘BTC’ search queries to Google, the algos see search numbers have risen and are triggered to buy a lot of BTC which pushes the price up, and the hacker then sells their BTC at a profit. Easy money!”
Meanwhile, Google Trends shows that searches for the word “crypto” have hit rock bottom in the US. They’ve reached a 12-month low of 33 compared to an index of 56 in September of last year.
Worldwide searches for “crypto” show a similar decline, with a current index of 51, down from 67 a year ago.