From marriage proposals to political messages, people have been hiding uncensorable messages in the blockchain blocks. Of particular interest is the Bitcoin blockchain which contains a vast collection of hidden messages, with some containing data about key events that are certain to be immortalized forever. Hiding significant messages in Blockchain blocks in an attempt to immortalize them is a practice that started since the mining of the first Bitcoin block in 2009.
The Hidden Stories Within Blockchain Networks
Cryptocurrency miners and users who are well skilled in steganography-the art of hiding a message, image, video, or forms of data within an ordinary file-have been concealing significant data on the blockchain.
As a result, Blockchain networks particularly Bitcoin and Ethereum constitute a vast collection of crucial hidden messages including newspaper headlines, art, music, profanities, and film together with records of obituaries, marriages, and births that will probably last time immemorial.
Besides hiding messages in blockchain networks, new means of communication are being implemented via coded conversations and secret languages on blockchain networks. Read on to find out how secret messages are created in the Blockchain network and notable messages hidden on the Bitcoin blockchain.
How Hidden Messages Are Written in Blockchain Networks
Hidden messages were developed to provide blockchain users with an anonymous way to communicate with each other via coded messages. Hidden messages on blockchain networks were discovered as a glitch in the blockchain system, allowing users to communicate anonymously.
Hidden messages are written in blockchain networks via transaction signatures. Conversations on blockchain networks occur via a digital signature or transaction (TX) signature used to identify an individual transmitting data on a blockchain. The signature facilitates transaction validation, linked to the public key of the entity involved. It’s also a confirmation that the transaction has not been tampered with in any manner as it verifies the message with a public key.
The message is embedded in a blockchain transaction via the “OP_Return output” function-an instruction coded into the Bitcoin blockchain by developers. The data (message) attached to the output would be unspendable and would remain on the blockchain network forever.
Notable Hidden Messages in the Bitcoin Blockchain
There are several hidden messages in the Bitcoin blockchain, some of them written in the Genesis Block. Here are some of the notable hidden messages in the Bitcoin block:
- The Times headline in the Genesis Block
The Genesis Block, the first ever Bitcoin block contains a secret message which is stored in Coinbase i.e. the first part of a block that is filled in by the blockchain miner. The message, a headline from the front page of The Times, Jan 3, 2009: “Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” is said to be included by the network’s anonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
The headline denotes the British bank bailouts in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis in the US and Russia. Satoshi used this headline to draw attention to the new peer-to-peer currency that he envisioned would replace the traditional financial system.
- Bitcoin Logo
The Bitcoin logo is encoded in the Bitcoin blockchain via the use of hex data in place of Bitcoin addresses. In fact, one of the earliest uses of this technique was to embed the Bitcoin logo in the blockchain. The Bitcoin logo is mostly hidden among normal transactions.
- Prayers from Miners
Several miners led by Eligius have written Catholic prayers (both in English and Latin) in the coinbase field of blocks they mined. Below are some prayer samples that have been written on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Benedictus Sanguis eius pretiosissimus.
Benedictus Iesus in sanctissimo altaris Sacramento.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, …
…and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.
O Heart of Jesus, burning with love for us, inflame our hearts with love for Thee.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine!
However, some Bitcoin users have come out against the prayers which are quite controversial. Some Bitcoin miners have even exchanged insults via the blockchain concerning these prayers.
- The 2020 Bitcoin Halving Message
Bitcoin halving is a process that occurs after every four years where the mining rewards are reduced by half i.e. halving. The event is often followed by a surge in Bitcoin mining rewards owing to the reduction of block rewards.
During the last Bitcoin halving event which occurred in May 2020, F2Pool-a Bitcoin mining pool was elected to pay respect to the origins of Bitcoin and immortalize the new financial crisis in block 629,999. A headline from the New York Times, dated April 9, 2020, which read: “With $2.3T Injection, Fed’s Plan Far Exceeds 2008 Rescue.” was immortalized in the 629,999 Bitcoin block.
- Nelson Mandela Tribute
A miner paid tribute to Nelson Mandela by including his image along with the tribute text in the Bitcoin blockchain. The miner did this by encoding the data into fake addresses in Bitcoin transactions, enabling the data to be permanently stored in the Bitcoin blockchain. The data was stored in the Blockchain by encoding hex values into the addresses.
Small amounts of bitcoins were sent to fake crypto addresses such as 15gHNr4TCKmhHDEG31L2XFNvpnEcnPSQvd which is stored in the Bitcoin blockchain as hex 334E656C736F6E2D4D616E64656C612E6A70673F. When the hex bytes are converted to Unicode, you’ll get the string 3Nelson-Mandela.jpg? representing the image filename.
- Julian Assange’s “We’re fine” Message
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange death rumors started circulating online on the 8chan message board in 2016. To respond to the misleading rumors, WikiLeaks chose an unconventional method fearing that its official Twitter account had been compromised. By using several different Bitcoin addresses, the nonprofit organization published the news: “were fine 8chan post fake.” The transaction details were documented here by a Steemit user name Khan.
WikiLeaks has also in the past immortalized data on the Bitcoin blockchain. For instance, it embedded a 2.5-megabyte file on “Cablegate,” their infamous US diplomatic cables leak in 2010. They also put up a message for Bitcoin’s inventor: “Free speech and free enterprise! Thank you Satoshi!” on the Bitcoin blockchain.
- Tribute to Len Sassaman
Following Len Sassaman death by suicide in July 2011, fellow developers Travis Goodspeed and Dan Kaminsky paid him a tribute by placing a homage on the Bitcoin blockchain. The tribute read: “We dedicate this silly hack to Len, who would have found it absolutely hilarious”
How to Embed Your Own Messages in the Blockchain
It’s possible to embed your own message of up to 20 characters in the Bitcoin blockchain. This can be done via the steps below:
- Take your 20-character string (message) and convert it to hex. E.g. in Python:
- Next, convert the resulting hex string to an address. An easy way to do this is by using an online tool i.e. https://blockchain.info/q/hashtoaddress/your hex value yields
- Once you’ve obtained the address, simply send small amounts of bitcoins, like 10 cents and your message will show up in the blockchain when the transaction gets verified. However, it’s important to note that those bitcoins will be lost forever. Therefore, ensure you send very small amounts to the generated address.
From tributes to prayers, there are numerous mysterious messages stored in Blockchain networks, especially the Bitcoin network. These messages are immortalized and can be accessed for many years to come. Numerous hidden messages can be found on the Bitcoin blockchain with plenty more yet to be uncovered.