Microsoft Bing joins Google, Facebook in banning cryptocurrency advertisements

Joining Google and Facebook, Microsoft’s Bing search engine will no longer show advertising for cryptocurrency, related products, and unregulated binary options. The news arrives by way of a short post on the Bing Ads blog that says the change will be made to Microsoft’s global financial product and services policies in June prior to a complete ban of these ads in late June or early July. 

“Because cryptocurrency and related products are not regulated, we have found them to present a possible elevated risk to our users, with the potential for bad actors to participate in predatory behaviors, or otherwise scam consumers,” said Melissa Alsoszatai-Petheo, advertiser policy manager. “To help protect our users from this risk, we have made the decision to disallow advertising.” 

Cryptocurrency — along with the related services and products — join other “legally questionable business opportunities” on Microsoft’s ban list,such as Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, and investments that depend on adding participants to a scheme. For instance, an ad can say: “Save more of your money,” followed by “learn this money-saving tip and save more.” A noncompliant version would say something like: “Save your money today,” followed by “sign up for this secret or risk losing your savings.” 

Microsoft’s Bing Ads polices already ban virtual currencies that are designed to facilitate illegal purposes. Examples include avoiding applicable taxes, money laundering, and the promotion of fake/forged virtual currencies. 

Facebook introduced a similar ban on its social network in January. According to the company, ads are not allowed to “promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings, or cryptocurrency.” The company said its new policy is intentionally broad. 

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

Google announced a similar move in March, stating that all advertisements related to cryptocurrency and unregulated investments will be banned from its AdWords advertisement platform. Cryptocurrencies are not regulated, so investors have no guarantee of safe, honest trading despite market claims. There’s also the rising trend of cryptocurrency startups generating cash through initial coin offerings, and then disappearing with the funds. 

The value of a Bitcoin reached an all-time high on December 16, 2017, at just over $19,000 but has since fallen to $8,518 as of May 15, 2018. The lowest point of the year thus far was $6,620 in early April. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin said in February that cryptocurrencies are hyper-volatile assets and not ideal for long-term investments. But the cryptocurrency craze continues, stringing along scam artists looking for eager investors. 

But not through Bing. 

“We are always evaluating our policies to ensure a safe and engaging experience for our Bing users and the digital advertising ecosystem,” Alsoszatai-Petheo said.