Bitcoin and cryptocurrency prices are well known to be closely tied to media and general public interest–-though that could be changing.
The bitcoin price has been climbing so far this year, rising some 200% since January, though has recently plateaued at around $10,000 per bitcoin after peaking at more than $12,000 in June.
Now, it appears Google searches for bitcoin and BTC, the name used by traders for the bitcoin digital token, could be being manipulated–-possibly in order to move the bitcoin price.Google searches for "BTC" (red) have suddenly eclipsed "bitcoin" (blue) searches in the U.S. and around the world. Google Trends
This week there has been a massive leap in Google searches for "BTC," which usually is lower than searches for "bitcoin"–with search volume for "BTC" around the world now far higher than it was even at the top of bitcoin's epic 2017 bull run.
The trend may have started in Romania, researchers at bitcoin and cryptocurrency news and analysis website Kryptografen found.
"It is reasonable to assume that someone is behind these radical changes," wrote Kryptografen's Bendik Norheim Schei.
"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."
The bitcoin price has in the past tracked searches for "bitcoin" and "BTC" quite closely, with a sudden rise in searches for "BTC" without a similar rise in the price highly unusual.
Meanwhile, Totte Löfström of Trijo News, which first reported the Google search discrepancy, found that, "if you choose to display the Google Trends result for the to...