What Does FUD Mean? A Simple Definition

FUD is a word that is used A LOT today, usually when talking about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. But what does FUD mean? Let’s find out

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 more often than not used when discussing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. But what does FUD mean and what is the appropriate context to use it in?

FUD Definition

In its simplest form, FUD is an acronym and it stands for FEAR, UNCERTAINTY, and DOUBT. It is commonly used by crypto enthusiasts to downplay negative reports or articles that are designed to stop people from getting involved with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Although FUD has also been used when discussing NFTs too.


The idea behind the word FUD is simple enough. If a writer or a publication goes out of its way to negatively report on something – be it investing in Bitcoin or NFTs – highlighting only the downsides and the risks, fans of crypto 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 looking into its positives, one could argue that it is fake news designed to negatively impact crypto. If this is the case, crypto experts will often deride the post as merely FUD.

Examples of FUD in Marketing

But it’s not just crypto where FUD can be used. In fact, 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 first started promoting its ChromeOS-powered laptops.

Google positioned ChromeOS as a cheaper option to Macs and Windows PCs. And in its initial marketing of 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 its iPhone – like the headphone jack, for instance – Samsung will run a FUD marketing campaign that actively promotes the fact that its phone DOES have a headphone jack, implying Apple was stupid for removing it. The irony, however, is that Samsung ALWAYS follows suit a generation or two later.

The purpose of a FUD-centric marketing campaign is to make consumers second-guess their purchases. Using the example above, no one wants a computer that’ll get a virus (Chromebooks vs. Windows PCs) and some people really do 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 & History of FUD

FUD might seem like a new thing, but it really isn’t. The first instance of FUD being used dates back to the 1920s – it was used in literary essays and publications. Although back then, it wasn’t shortened to FUD; instead, the writers used it in its unabbreviated form: “fear, uncertainty, and doubt”. By the 1970s, FUD as an acronym was born and it was used predominately by marketing, sales, and PR people.

FUD became a hot topic too. Sales and PR types were obsessed with leveraging FUD for their own ends and also how to react and divert any potential FUD campaign aimed at them by their respective competitors. Back then, as now, no company could stand to have a negative consumer perception pointing at 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 be served anti-trust lawsuits for its use of FUD against its competitors.

In the 1990s and 2000s, the term became associated with the tech giant Microsoft, which was accused of engaging in FUD tactics to delegitimize other tech brands like IBM, Mozilla, and Linux. Microsoft was supposedly creating false error codes on competing products running on Windows, making them seem 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 anti-competitive practices.


More recently, FUD has found its way into politics (BREXIT and COVID vaccines), celebrity culture, and pretty much 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 will 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. Coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum are INSANELY volatile, they go up and down constantly, adding and removing value on a daily basis. Seasoned investors know this is the nature of the beast and it is why we have words like HODL associated with Bitcoin.

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But because the value of Bitcoin – and other coins – can and is affected by confidence, crypto evangelists are always on the lookout for FUD. If they see an article that is deliberately trying to undermine or overstate the risks of investing in crypto, it will be labeled as FUD – something that isn’t worth paying attention to.

There are many risks and downsides to Bitcoin and crypto. But you cannot mention the downsides without first looking at the positives. The point of ANY post or publication should be to give the reader both sides of the argument. If it does not do that it is being deliberately deceptive. Articles that fail to do this are labeled as FUD.

For instance, when a major newspaper publishes an article disparaging Bitcoin and crypto in general – this happens a lot – well-known crypto advocates, either on their own blogs or via Twitter, will say: “FUD, continue to HODL,” for instance which translated means: this is just fear-mongering designed to instill uncertainty in potential investors. Ignore it and buy and hold your Bitcoin.

What Does FUD Mean? A Simple DefinitionPin

The problem with FUD, at least from an outsider’s or beginner’s perspective, is that it can be hard to tell what is real and what is not – who’s word are you best taking: a newspaper columnist or an experienced crypto trader? It’s not a nice choice either way. And this is why FUD campaigns are often so successful within the crypto niche – most people have NO IDEA about how Bitcoin or the blockchain work.

If you are interested in learning more about Bitcoin and the blockchain, the best way to do so is to educate yourself. You can read books. I really like this one, this one, and this one – they’ll all be great at giving you a wider overview of how Bitcoin works and how to start investing in it. If you’re more of a visual learner, this UDEMY course is the top-rated Bitcoin course for beginners and is well worth a look – especially as it is currently on sale.

And when you do understand more about Bitcoin and crypto in general, keep in mind that it is now very easy to buy Bitcoin and Ethereum – you can buy several major crypto coins via PayPal. Back in the day, buying BTC was not only hard but next to impossible unless you were extremely technically savvy. Nowadays, it is thankfully a lot simpler.

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin is a leading UK technology journalist with a focus on consumer tech trends and data security. Renowned for his insightful analysis, Richard has contributed to Sky News, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 2, and CNBC, making complex tech issues accessible to a broad audience.

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