The Internet has given birth to a plethora of acronyms and slang words. We have common examples like NSFW, IYKYK, XOXO, and of course HODL, which, like FUD, is most often used when talking about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. But what does FUD mean and what is the proper context to use it?
In its simplest form, FUD is an acronym and stands for FEAR, UNCERTAINTY, and DOUBT. It is commonly used by cryptocurrency enthusiasts to downplay negative reports or articles that are designed to prevent people from getting involved with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Although FUD has also been used when talking about NFT.
The idea behind the word FUD is quite simple. If a writer or publication goes out of their way to report negatively on something, be it Investing in Bitcoin or
– highlighting only the downsides and risks, fans of cryptocurrencies or NFTs will pass off the report as mere FUD.
Like fake news, FUD is essentially a marker for something. If a post is completely negative about BTC, without analyzing its positive aspects, it could be argued that it is fake news designed to negatively affect cryptocurrencies. If this is the case, crypto pundits will often deride the post as simply FUD.
Examples of FUD in Marketing
But it’s not just crypto where FUD can be used. You don’t even need to use the word FUD. FUD can also be a marketing tactic. And as a marketing tactic, FUD has been used for years by all kinds of corporate entities. A good example would be when Google started promoting its Laptops with ChromeOS.
Google positioned ChromeOS as a cheaper option for Macs and Windows PCs. And in its initial marketing for the platform, it claimed that, unlike Windows PCs, you NEVER had to worry about your Chromebook getting infected with malware or bugs from the internet. This is a great example of using FUD in a marketing campaign. And it worked well, too: Google has sold a LOT of Chromebooks to date.
Another great example? Samsung, the unofficial master of FUD. Every time Apple removes something from their iPhone, like the headphone jack, for example, Samsung runs a FUD marketing campaign actively promoting the fact that their phone DOES have a headphone jack, implying that Apple was stupid to take it off. The irony, though, is that Samsung ALWAYS does the same thing a generation or two later.
The purpose of a FUD-focused marketing campaign is to make consumers doubt their purchases. Using the example above, no one wants a computer that has a virus (Chromebooks vs. Windows PCs), and some people like having a headphone jack on their phone (Apple vs. Samsung). By highlighting these issues, the marketer effectively instills fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
The genesis and history of FUD
FUD may seem like something new, but it isn’t. The first time FUD has used dates back to the 1920s: it was used in literary essays and publications. Though back then, it wasn’t shortened to FUD; instead, the writers used it in its unabridged form: “fear, uncertainty, and doubt . ” In the 1970s, FUD as an acronym was born and was predominantly used by people in marketing, sales, and public relations.
FUD also became a hot topic. Sales and PR guys were obsessed with leveraging FUD for their purposes and also how to react and deflect any potential FUD campaigns directed at them by their respective competitors. Back then, as now, no company could bear to have a negative consumer perception targeting their brand. It was terrible for sales.
Although it took until the 1990s and 2000s for Microsoft to turn FUD into an art form. Microsoft was also the first company to receive antitrust lawsuits for the use of FUD against its competitors.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the term became associated with tech giant Microsoft, which was accused of engaging in FUD tactics to delegitimize other tech brands like IBM, Mozilla, and Linux. Microsoft was allegedly creating fake error codes in competitor products running on Windows, making them look like unreliable pieces of software. Microsoft was also accused of funding lawsuits against competitors to negatively affect their perception in the public eye. In response, several antitrust lawsuits were filed against Microsoft for anticompetitive practices.
More recently, FUD has found its way into politics (BREXIT and COVID vaccines), celebrity culture, and virtually every other aspect of modern life. Thanks to the prevalence of marketing and sales in our culture, FUD is now everywhere. From Instagram influencers to newspapers, once you know how to spot it, you’ll see FUD everywhere, all the time.
FUD’s New Spiritual Home: The Crypto Markets
During the latter part of the 2010s, FUD found a new home: the crypto markets. Currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are INSANELY volatile, constantly going up and down, adding and removing value daily. Seasoned investors, I know this is the nature of the beast and this is why we have words like HODL associated with Bitcoin.
But because the value of Bitcoin, and other currencies, can and is affected by trust, crypto evangelists are always on the lookout for FUD. If they see an article that deliberately tries to undermine or exaggerate the risks of investing in crypto, it will be labeled as FUD, which is not worth paying attention to.
There are many risks and drawbacks to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. But you can’t mention the cons without looking at the positives first. The goal of ANY article or publication should be to give the reader both sides of the argument. If you don’t, you are being deliberately misleading. Items that do not do this are labeled FUD.
For example, when a major newspaper publishes an article disparaging Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general (this happens frequently), well-known cryptocurrency advocates, either on their blogs or via Twitter, will say, “FUD, keep up the HODL.” For example, what translated means: This is just scaremongering designed to instill uncertainty in potential investors. Ignore it and buy and hold your Bitcoin.
The problem with FUD, at least from a beginner’s or outsider’s perspective, is that it can be hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. Who is better to speak: a newspaper columnist or an experienced crypto trader? Not a good choice either way. And that is why FUD campaigns are often so successful within the cryptocurrency niche: most people have NO IDEA how Bitcoin or the blockchain works.
If you are interested in learning more about Bitcoin and blockchain, the best way to do so is to educate yourself. You can read books. I like this one, They will all be great at giving you a broader overview of how Bitcoin works and how to start investing in it. If you are more of a visual learner, this UDEMY course is the highest-rated Bitcoin course for beginners and is worth checking out, especially since it is currently on sale.
And when you understand more about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general, keep in mind that it is now very easy to buy Bitcoin and Ethereum: you can buy several major cryptocurrencies through PayPal. In the past, buying BTC was not only difficult but almost impossible unless you were extremely tech-savvy. Today, fortunately, it is much simpler.