This came a long way before reaching their intended amount of 2 billion XLM tokens that were allocated to this particular series of airdrops.
The announcement to halt the giveaway program came via a blog post on December 13 of 2019.
“Today, Friday the 13th, we’ve begun distributing the final 100 million Lumens among all qualifying members. The total giveaway amount will have been 300 million Lumens (approximately $16,000,000 USD).” read the post.
Prior to the entry of spam accounts, both Stellar and Keybase received positive feedback from the media and the general public. Keybase saw thousands of new registrations, while Stellar benefited in the form of good press.
Then Things Started To Change
Before a user account was cleared to participate in the airdrops, it would have to go through a number of checks to verify whether or not it is an actual user account (all accounts that had joined Keybase prior to the airdrop were taken as being authentic). The parameters of the airdrop also considered Github and Hacker News user accounts authentic, because both have a “high-quality” user base.
However, it is likely because of this that the airdrop program was compromised by spammers. Though the amount of Lumens allocated for individual user was negligible, a spammer in control of a vast bot net would be able to make these drops a more lucrative endeavour for themselves.
According to Coindesk, spammers where able to take advantage of this by gaining control of multiple dormant user accounts on Github and Hacker News. Spammers used bot farms in control of a multitude of user accounts to by pass the account verification methods that had been put in place.
For the end phase of the airdrop program, Keybase opted to add SMS authentication, and a number of other filtration tools to verify the legitimacy of a user account. Of the new sign ups, approximately 150 000 passed the check. That said it is still extremely difficult for Keybase to determine exactly how many spammer initiatives actually made it through undetected.
Max Krohn, CEO of Keybase, pointed out that regions like Nigeria and Latin America are hot spots for these sorts of activities. As these areas have limited, and less developed, internet infrastructure, tracking distinct signals for the purpose of analysis is a lot harder.
The XLM airdrop program seem to have been a bitter sweet endeavour. On the one hand, it achieved exactly what it was supposed to achieve, Keybase gained more users while Stellar benefited from build greater awareness of its operations. On the other hand, the entry of spammers could really do a lot in the way degrading the user experience on the Keybase app.
However, at the end of it all the main objectives of the partnership where achieved.
“It was really an interesting experiment, in the end, it definitely achieved the goal of getting more numbers onto Keybase and more people onto Stellar.” Krohn said.