The Washington Post dubbed White "the cryptocurrency world's biggest critic," as she investigates and exposes scams and other questionable practices in the opaque and largely unregulated industry through her website, Web3 is Going Just Great.

In response to the Post story, a Northeastern student wrote on Reddit, "Molly White is a gem of Northeastern University." 

"It feels important to me to make information available to people, especially when other groups are attempting to present a very different and, in my opinion, unrealistic story," she said. "I see a lot of real people being hurt by it, especially with cryptocurrency—people who don't have the money to lose who were sold the dream of financial freedom or a ticket out of having to work two jobs, and then put in even more desperate situations."

Cryptocurrencies are vulnerable to risky price swings and untrustworthy traders because they can be circulated digitally without government oversight. She dedicates her website to web3—the blockchain foundation for cryptocurrencies—recognizing that ordinary people are being taken advantage of by dubious investment schemes.

"I feel obligated to do the research as someone who is capable and willing to do it," she says.

White, who was born and raised in Maine, was drawn to Northeastern by the promise of co-ops. She took part in two of them at HubSpot in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which led to six years of full-time employment as a software engineer before leaving last month.

In her early teens, she began developing an online presence as an editor and writer at Wikipedia, first about music and then supporting female scientists.

"When I was 13, I discovered that anyone could edit Wikipedia. I have a strange brain because I enjoy documenting, archiving, and collecting information. I've also always been passionate about free and open knowledge and information access. In high school, I became a reasonably active editor and continued to do so throughout college and afterward."

Following Donald Trump's 2016 presidential election, White's focus has shifted to the alt-right, exposing her to online vitriol and preparing her for the blowback she has recently received from the crypto industry. As a result, she claims she has been subjected to online harassment.

"It can be unpleasant at times," she admits. "There's also a gender aspect to being a visible woman on the internet with opinions that drew a fair amount of criticism—even before I started editing in those topic areas." So I wish it were otherwise."

Her resolve has been strengthened as a result of the attacks.

"By nature, I'm a very stubborn person," she admits. "Being harassed or targeted online makes me angry that it's happening, but also more determined to stick with it." I do everything I can to minimize it and protect myself and my family, but it feels important to keep doing what I'm doing, especially when people try to stop me."

Her perseverance is a family characteristic she is proud of. "Having another stubborn daughter was not surprising to my family," 

Molly seems to see her efforts as part of a bigger picture. "How can we steer the web in a more positive direction?" "I think many people see me and think she's a crypto critic, that she wants to stop crypto, that she wants to stifle [innovation]."

However, Molly says she shares many of the same goals as some of the people working in the web3 space, including access to information and online communities centered on shared goals.

"I'm concerned that crypto and web3 are moving us in the opposite direction—limiting access to information and communities and financializing many of our online interactions," she says. "I want to open up the web and make it a better place." That is the motivation, rather than the desire to stop crypto."

She plans to restart her less-famous career as a software engineer because "writing software is my favorite thing." However, she will continue to monitor the crypto industry on behalf of those exploited by it.

"I just keep doing what I think is meaningful and helpful. I imagine that will remain the goal, regardless of the form it takes at any given time," she added.

Aug 22, 2022
Digital Lifestyle

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