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Facebook Is Investigating Bitcoin Ads Bypassing Its New Ban

It appears some ads have already found simple workarounds.

Joseph Cox

Joseph Cox

Image: Twitter/Matthieu Suiche, Shutterstock. Composition: Jordan pearson

Facebook has had enough of Bitcoin, for now. Last week, the social media giant announced it will ban all cryptocurrency advertising on the platform. That measure may have been deployed sloppily so far though—it appears some Bitcoin-related advertisements are still cropping up.

Facebook is investigating the issue, a spokesperson told Motherboard in an email on Monday.

Matthieu Suiche, founder of cybersecurity startup Comae Technologies, tweeted a screenshot allegedly showing one of the offending ads on Saturday. The ad was likely intentionally misspelled, Suiche wrote, presumably to circumvent Facebook’s ban.

“This is ridiculous. Ads are evading new Facebook rules against crypto currencies, and [Initial Coin Offerings] by misspelling them. ‘BlTC0lN’ with L and Zeros,” Suiche tweeted.

The screenshot posted by Suiche showed a link for a suspicious-looking article on Facebook titled “MUST READ! Don’t Invest in BlTC0lN Before You Read This.”

Facebook announced its ban last week in a blog post. More specifically, the company said it was banning advertisements for “financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.” This included cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings—fundraisers for startups wherein investors buy digital tokens—but also financial tools like binary options. Facebook stated that the ban is “intentionally broad,” and may be fine-tuned later.

Some examples of ads that will be banned going forward that Facebook gave in its blog posts—such as “Click here to learn more about our no-risk cryptocurrency that enables instant payments to anyone in the world”—are largely indistinguishable from the ad Suiche posted, which stated “Google’s BlTC0lN strategy Is Helping People around the world to pay-off their debts and quit their jobs.”

“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception,” Facebook’s post announcing the ban on ads continued.

Getting around spam filters, bans, or otherwise trying to trick consumers with slight typos is a long running practice online. One Russian spammer even bought a sneakily-written “ɢoogle.com” domain (note, that isn’t Google) and recently lost a legal case over ownership of the domain.

Scammers are going to scam, even if that involves just finding more inventive ways to misspell.

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