Crash Course: Cryptocurrency Ad Restrictions

Crash Course: Cryptocurrency Ad Restrictions

Cryptocurrencies have been in the headlines for some time now. These digital currencies are taking on the tried and true fiat money system by offering a decentralized medium of exchange. These currencies have their critics and their proponents, and their rise has led to a slew of social ads intended to lure newbies into the market. These ads often use initial coin offerings (ICOs) to draw people in, sometimes with “misleading or deceptive promotional practices”, according to Facebook. This is why Facebook banned cryptocurrency ads on its platform一and why other tech and social giants are quickly following suit.

DeceptiveAdvertising.Sucks, and these tech giants are not taking any chances.

The Problem According to Reddit

Reddit claims that cryptocurrency ads have been banned on its platform since 2016. This may seem strange, considering that cryptocurrency enthusiasts use the platform to discuss all things crypto, including mining, investing and accessing the dark web. According to Reddit advertising policies though, the problem with cryptocurrencies as they currently stand is that they are considered “improbable or unsubstantiated financial products and services”. The nebulous nature of these digital bucks makes them ripe for advertising malpractice, scams and other annoyances, which is why companies are becoming so wary of promoting them.

Facebook Takes a Stand

Facebook open on a laptop

In a lengthy news post, Facebook’s Product Management Director, Rob Leathern, outlined the intent to ban ads for financial products that are frequently associated with deceptive practices. Specifically, he called out binary options, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrencies in his post. He claimed that the decision to ban ads for such services was made so that users can “continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception”.

Google and Twitter Follow Suit

After Facebook’s announcement, Google and Twitter followed suit. Why is this so significant? Because Facebook and Twitter together control between 60-70% of the online advertising market. That’s a huge blow to anyone banned from their promotional services. And getting blacklisted by Google can be devastating, given its immense power and influence over the online world.

Cracking Down On Bad Ads

Google boasts removing 100 bad ads per second in a blog post by Scott Spencer, Director of Sustainable Ads at the company. In 2017 alone, they removed 3.2 billion ads that violated their terms of service. It’s important, Spender writes, to respect “the user experience more than the ads”. His concern regarding cryptocurrencies一and related products like wallets and exchanges一is that they are often “unregulated” and “speculative”.

The Market Takes a Hit

Crypto stock market

After the Facebook ban, Bitcoin fell from $10,166 to $6,914. After recovering from this market hit, Google and Twitter announced their ad bans, and Bitcoin fell again to below $7,500. Despite these market fluctuations, many people believe that the future ahead is bright. John Ratcliff, a cryptocurrency blogger, notes in a Tweet that cryptocurrency networks are strong and healthy. Rather, he blames ICOs, alt bag-holders and panic sellers as the true culprits of the perceived instability. Rosemary O’Neill, CEO of Blockchain-based social network Narrative, claims that social media ads are relatively insignificant to their business and that they are instead more focussed on “ICO directory sites, niche email newsletters, Telegram channels, and Discord rooms”.

So, the bans might not be all that bad for legitimate cryptocurrency products and services, just those looking to make a quick, unsustainable profit.

The Takeaway

Once the smoke clears, the ban might actually help to legitimize cryptocurrencies on a larger scale, as weeding out the scammers is imperative to creating a healthy ecosystem. Additionally, as mainstream stock companies don’t typically use paid advertising on social media, it may be beneficial for the crypto market to mirror that approach if it hopes to go fully mainstream one day. There are big things happening in the cryptosphere right now, and there’s just no telling what lies around the corner.

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Photo Credits: Shutterstock / r.classen, Shutterstock / NiP photography, Shutterstock / PixieMe