The Cryptocurrency Ad Ban
In recent weeks, some of tech’s largest companies have been leading a crusade against cryptocurrency-related advertising on their platforms. Facebook, Google, and Twitter are all reportedly stanching the flow of cryptocurrency, ICO, and other related ads on their websites and, for Google, across any of its ad services. The cryptocurrency ad ban comes at a time when cryptocurrencies are starting to come under the purview of the international political arena. Though interest in the digital trend reached a fever pitch at the end of 2017, crypto has been the subject of more formal legislative discussions in the past two months than it has since Bitcoin’s creation in 2009.
Politics of Crypto
At this week’s G20 summit in Argentina, politicians from some of the most powerful nations in the world came to the conclusion that, while not acting as official currencies, cryptocurrencies represent a legitimate asset class, and the governing forum has made calls for a clear direction on unified, global regulations by July of this year. Meanwhile in the United States, the US House of Representatives held a subcommittee hearing on ICOs, cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology on March 14th. Coming out of the meeting, Congress released a joint report with Minority News on the benefits and potential of blockchain/distributed ledger technology.
In a War of Words, Industry Giants Play Follow the Leader
Take these progressive legislative developments alongside (arguably) regressive ad policies in the private sector and investors and enthusiasts alike are left with conflicting messages: at a time when governments are looking to regulate and reap the benefits of new technology, social media and tech giants want nothing to do with it.
On January 30th, Facebook began the cryptocurrency ad ban when it released a blog post announcing updates to its ad policy. The change, Product management Director Rob Leathern argues, is meant to protect Facebook’s users and make the social media hub safer. “Misleading or deceptive ads have no place on Facebook,” he writes, continuing to say,
“We’ve created a new policy that prohibits ads that promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency.”
The holistic ban, the post indicates, is in the best interest of the community until Facebook can formulate a strategy for targeting fraudulent ads directly. Until then, any crypto-related ads won’t see the light of day on the social media network and its subsidiaries, Instagram and Audience Network:
“This policy is intentionally broad while we work to better detect deceptive and misleading advertising practices, and enforcement will begin to ramp up across our platforms including Facebook, Audience Network and Instagram. We will revisit this policy and how we enforce it as our signals improve.”
Then Came Google
Google was the first to follow-up on the cryptocurrency ad ban, revealing a change to its own advertising policy this month. The ban is across all of Google’s AdWord services and is to take effect in June, according to the post:
“In June 2018, Google will update the Financial services policy to restrict the advertisement of Contracts for Difference, rolling spot forex, and financial spread betting. In addition, ads for the following will no longer be allowed to serve:
- Binary options and synonymous products
- Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice)”
Any advertisers who who wish to publish ads for “Contracts for Difference, rolling spot forex, and financial spread betting” will now have to apply for a certification from Google come March.
Today, Twitter jumped on the bandwagon with its own cryptocurrency ad ban that follows many of the same guidelines as the Facebook and Google bans.