For the last couple of years, the large debate has been going on about how to handle scaling in Bitcoin. At the moment, most blocks are hitting the blocksize limit of 1 MB, resulting in slow transactions, large fees and low transaction throughput.
Difference Of Opinion
After a number of attempts to solve this scaling issue, none has shown a clear solution which led to multiple factions being formed. Each faction favours their solution and believes opposing factions will lead to the Bitcoin doomsday.
Currently, one of these proposals, known as the User-Activated Soft Fork (UASF) is scheduled to go live on 1 August 2017. Another group of miners has stated their intention to create another fork of the Blockchain if UASF is indeed activated, splitting the Bitcoin chain into two. A well-known previous example of this is the Ethereum and Ethereum Classic split.
When a Cryptocurrency forks, it results in duplication. Any transactions and coins that were present prior to the fork are valid on all subsequent chains. It is in your best interest to control your coins in a manner that gives you the flexibility to transact on both chains.
The only way to protect yourself in the event of a fork is to ensure that your Bitcoins are under your control. If your coins are stored on an exchange such as Poloniex, Coinbase, Bittrex, Bitfinex etc. or on an online wallet such as Blockchain.info, you will be forced to use whichever Bitcoin fork they choose to support.
To completely control your bitcoin, you must be in control of your private keys. A private key is what allows you to spend your Bitcoin, and must be kept safe. Stay in complete control, have your coins stored in either Wallet Applications, Paper Wallets or Hard Wallets.