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Understanding cryptocurrency starts with learning a lot of basic terminology thrown around in the community, as entrepreneur and day trader Zac Hartley illustrates in the course Trade and Invest in Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. The first step to getting involved in this world is learning the language. The latest bit of jargon cryptocurrency and NFT collectors are faced with decoding? Crypto FUD.

This long-standing term has been woven through literature, marketing, and investing, and it’s now taken on new meaning for the crypto crowd. It can even have very real consequences on crypto markets.

Read on to learn what FUD means, why it matters in crypto, and how to handle it when it crops up in your life.

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What Does FUD Mean?

Traditionally, FUD is a marketing and communications term that stands for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” It refers to the tactic of stoking fear about a certain product, market, or brand. 

In the 1970s through the turn of the century, FUD marketing or comms meant spreading information—or misinformation—about a brand, usually a competitor, to influence consumer doubts about the brand.

Earlier in history, the term had surfaced with the reverse definition: FUD referred to brands working to correct negative perceptions people had about their products or services. But over time, aggressive marketers learned to use FUD tactics offensively to influence perceptions of competitors.

In the stock market, FUD stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt that can influence stock prices. Speculation, rumors, stories on social media, or news framed to stoke fears can cause investors to buy or sell en masse and move the value of a security quickly.

FUD generally has a negative connotation, especially in investing. It doesn’t refer to rational concerns or vetting. It’s about decisions driven by emotional reactions—and the impact that has on markets at large.

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What Is Crypto FUD?

In cryptocurrency markets, FUD means the same thing as in traditional investment markets: fear, uncertainty, and doubt around the asset’s viability.

In crypto and NFTs, those concerns are expected—skeptics soon follow the proliferation of any new technology, and blockchain isn’t immune.

Crypto FUD is less about the FUD marketing tactics of old and more about the resistance immediately mounted against any sea change that’s hard for the general public to understand.

Bitcoin and the popular cryptocurrencies that have followed have faced skepticism about their connections with illegal activity on the dark web, their energy consumption, and their potential to rock existing financial systems. They’re also riddled with FUD about government regulations, culminating in what Fortune recently called “a peak FUD moment for crypto.”

What Does FUD Mean for Crypto and NFTs?

As Fortune notes, FUD doesn’t tend to have a long-term impact on investment values. Widespread fear-based investment decisions can impact the value of a stock or asset class quickly, but the value tends to rebound quickly, as well.

The effects of FUD might even have a positive influence on traders’ perceptions of crypto.

The decentralized nature of crypto and other blockchain applications attracts a contingent of people who appreciate the ways crypto circumvents establishment systems. That can mean, for some, that dark web applications, government resistance, and disruption of traditional economic systems are the very reasons crypto is attractive as an investment.

It becomes a self-fulfilling cycle: When enthusiasts continue to buy into crypto despite widespread FUD, crypto market values show themselves to be resilient against FUD, and investors learn not to take reported concerns too seriously.

For this reason, crypto enthusiasts tend to use FUD to refer to the fears of those outside of the crypto community—as in, “Don’t listen to them, they just have crypto FUD.”

Crypto FUD outside of the core community can have real consequences, like China’s banning of crypto mining and transactions last year, but they haven’t proven enough to destroy the asset class. Bitcoin prices took a brief hit after that action but recovered within the day.

How Are You Affected by Crypto FUD?

On an individual level, however, crypto FUD—like fears about any financial markets—could lead to rash decisions. If you’re caught at the right time with a story stoking doubt about the sustainability of crypto mining, for example, you could be prompted to sell your holdings.

That’s the risk of FUD in any market: Whether used as a marketing tactic or just a result of human reactions to poorly contextualized news stories, FUD can drive financially unsound choices.

That could mean everything from voting for a political candidate who doesn’t represent your best interests to selling off your retirement investments at a loss to tanking your crypto collection before it has time to mature.

Crypto’s biggest advocates tend to recommend pushing through FUD—keeping your assets even when prices drop, referred to as “HODLing.” That could stoke even more fear in an individual, depending on your tolerance for risk. Crypto markets are relatively young, without historical returns to back up forecasts of recovery, so advice to HODL carries just as much risk as advice to sell in uncertain moments.

How to Handle Crypto FUD

Just like any other major moves you make with your money, you should consider your crypto decisions rationally before committing. Or—better yet—pay professionals to think rationally for you.

If you’re committing major amounts of your money to crypto assets and NFTs, work with a financial advisor to determine where to put your money for the least risk and greatest potential impact for your financial goals.

A traditional financial planner who advises you on other investments could be a big help in determining how much money you can comfortably risk in crypto markets. To determine what to buy, plus when to heed public concerns about crypto and when to disregard them, work with a professional who understands cryptocurrency markets and trends, as many financial planners and wealth managers might not yet be familiar with that asset class (and might make FUD-based decisions themselves).

You could also assuage some of your crypto fears by buying crypto insurance to cover your holdings against theft or fraud. Insurance won’t cover losses due to market volatility, but it could give you some peace of mind against other concerns.

Don’t Let Crypto FUD Make Decisions for You

FUD is likely here to stay—as long as marketers know its power, as long as media outlets benefit from its draw, companies will be incentivized to pump out the information that stokes widespread fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

But you don’t have to let that make decisions for you.

Stay aware of the intentional or unintentional actions that spread crypto FUD, and work with a trusted financial advisor to vet new information and make sound decisions for your money.

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This article is not intended to be financial advice.