FINTECH BLOG

Twitter, Google, and Facebook Ban Crypto-Advertising

Digital advertising giants ban cryptocurrency ads

Recently, Google, Facebook, and Twitter have moved to ban cryptocurrency and Initial Coin Offering (ICO) advertising from their platforms. The move is largely a response to a lack of clear regulation in the sector and opportunistic, scam-laden advertisements. Facebook, the first of the three tech giants to announce a ban of this nature, put the blame on ‘misleading or deceptive promotional practices’, as Product Management Director Rob Leathern observed in a January blog post.

“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception. That said, there are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith.” Leathern commented.

Facebook is keeping this policy “intentionally broad” while they work to assess the problem and ensure enforcement across both Facebook and Instagram.

Google is taking a similarly broad approach in banning crypto-related advertising both on its own website as well as third-party websites using its ad products. This move will affect both suspect companies and legitimated or regulated companies. Google has banned “Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice)”.

How effective will these cryptocurrency advertising bans be?

It remains to be seen how effective these bans will be at curtailing predatory ads. As commentators have pointed out, some companies have attempted to skirt these rules by intentionally misspelling “BitC0IN” (with a zero instead of an “O”) and using “Block(Chain)”, “Bitcoiin” and so on.

Lack of regulation has allowed these suspect advertisers to proliferate. As Scott Spencer, Google’s Director of Sustainable Ads, observed in a blog post, “Our work to protect the ads ecosystem doesn’t stop here—it’s ongoing. As consumer trends evolve, as our methods to protect the open web get better, so do online scams.”

Ironically, as Google, Twitter, and Facebook look to police their platforms, some legitimate, regulated entities are being penalized. For example, Draper University, as Mashable reported, has been unable to continue to advertise their courses on cryptocurrency.

An uncertain landscape for cryptocurrency

These tech giants usually champion new ways of doing business, so it is significant that they have all chosen to address this issue in a similar fashion. It raises questions about earlier enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously expressed interest in looking into how Facebook can best implement cryptocurrency. While Jack Dorsey, CEO and Co-founder of Twitter, has predicted that bitcoin will “overtake the dollar in importance as it becomes the single global currency of the internet within a decade”. Yet, without clear regulations, all three companies have opted to protect both their users and themselves against risk.

As Google’s Scott Spencer put it to CNBC: “We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution.’

Learn More about Twitter, Google, and Facebook Banning Crypto-Advertising:

  1. Twitter bans cryptocurrency advertising.
  2. Google is also banning all cryptocurrency, ICO advertisements starting in June.
  3. This follows on the heels of Facebook banning all cryptocurrency ads including bitcoin and ICOs, which was announced at the end of January.

For regular updates on the world of blockchain, fintech, and cryptocurrencies, subscribe to the EKB Fintech blog.

About the Authors

KELLY SAMUELS
Kelly Samuels, partner, brings a knowledge of business law to the rapidly growing fintech sector.
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FRASER HARTLEY EKB Fintech Author

FRASER HARTLEY
Fraser Hartley, partner, is focused on financing + technology, and helping the businesses that bring the two together.
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riley lelonde ekb fintech author

RILEY LaLONDE
Riley Lalonde, associate, assists clients with a variety of business law matters while keeping an eye on developments in the fintech sector.
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