Facebook changes its cryptocurrency rules by easing its ad blocking policy

Facebook changed its mind about banning cryptocurrency-related advertisements from the social network. Since Tuesday, June 26, the updated policy will allow advertisements that promote cryptocurrency and related content, but only from pre-approved advertisers. Advertisements that promote initial coin offerings and binary options are still banned from Facebook’s pages. 

Facebook updated its advertisement policy in January to prohibit ads that promote “financial products and services” linked to “misleading or deceptive promotional practices.” Three examples given were binary options, initial coin offerings, and cryptocurrency. For example, an advertisement couldn’t promote purchasing Bitcoin using retirement funds, or purchasing ICO tokens at a discount. 

But cryptocurrency isn’t a problem: The issue resides with the people associated with cryptocurrency. For instance, one of the biggest scams is to lure hopeful investors into purchasing “valuable” tokens to financially help launch a new cryptocurrency. But instead of launching the new platform, scam artists are disappearing with the cash. This is one of the reasons why Facebook originally cracked down on cryptocurrency-related advertisements. 

Yet given that Facebook generates revenue from advertisements, banning all cryptocurrency-related ads may not have been a great financial decision. Facebook product management director Rob Leathern says that the company spent the last several months refining its advertisement policy to that some ads can safely show up on the social network. 

To enable these ads, Facebook implemented an application submittal process that includes submitting licenses, trading information on a public stock exchange, and “other relevant public background” information regarding the business wanting to advertise. That said, not all cryptocurrency-related companies will pass Facebook’s inspection. 

“We’ll listen to feedback, look at how well this policy works and continue to study this technology so that, if necessary, we can revise it over time,” Leathern says. “It’s important that we continue to help prevent or remove misleading advertising for these products and services.” 

Google began banning cryptocurrency-related advertisements from its AdWords platform in June, blocking ads related to “unregulated or speculative financial products.” Google lists cryptocurrency ads under its “emerging threats” banner given that digital currency isn’t regulated and therefore investors have no guarantee of safe, honest trading. 

Microsoft will join Google’s lead in late June or early July, banning cryptocurrency-related advertisements from Bing. The company sings a similar tune in its reasoning: Because cryptocurrency and related products aren’t regulated, there is potential for “bad actors to participate in predatory behaviors.” Microsoft already bans virtual currencies that are designed to facilitate illegal purposes, but now the company will ban all cryptocurrency ads. 

Outside of the search engines, the Twitter Ads platform began blocking advertisements in March that are related to cryptocurrency wallet services, initial coin offerings, and cryptocurrency exchanges that don’t meet specific requirements. Reddit began blocking cryptocurrency-related ads in early 2016, including Google-cached ads. 

Unfortunately, at least with Facebook, there is a possibility that something will slip through the cracks. The social network encourages everyone to report content that violates its advertising policies. If you see a bad ad, simply click “report ad” in the upper right-hand corner of the offending advertisement. 

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