What a Bitcoin ‘Reorg’ Is and What Binance Has to Do With It

What started with a single tweet quickly turned into an escalating debate Wednesday when the CEO of one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges appeared to entertain the idea of encouraging revisions to the bitcoin blockchain.

Following Wednesday’s revelation that crypto exchange Binance was robbed of 7,000 BTC (worth about $40 million), a proposal was floated to conduct a transaction “reorg” on the bitcoin blockchain, sparking a fiery debate and community uproar.

The idea was suggested a few hours after the world’s largest crypto exchange by volume was hacked when developer Jeremy Rubin, who has worked on bitcoin and Stellar’s core code, tweeted to the founder and CEO of Binance:

“[Changpeng Zhao] if you reveal your private keys for the hacked coins… you can decentralized-ly at zero cost to you coordinate a reorg to undo the theft.”

Rubin essentially suggested that by getting a majority of miners onboard, the transaction history could be adjusted so that the funds are instead broken up and sent to them instead. This “reorganization” would come at some cost, but it would prevent the 7,000 BTC from staying in the hands of the hackers. Further, it wouldn’t have constituted a pure rollback, or a reversal of the transaction history writ-large.

The idea was subsequently raised during an ask-me-anything session held by Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, sparking a round of speculation that ended with Zhao ultimately dismissing the idea.

As the tweet caught attention, the conversation quickly boiled over given the topic of discussion – there have been very few changes to the bitcoin blockchain’s transaction history in its 10 years of operation, as doing so has been reserved for dire emergencies in which there may be critical consensus failures.

“To clarify, the proposal by [Rubin] and [James Prestwich] is to construct a [transaction] that would keep all other transactions and just distribute the hacker coins to miners,”

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