Facebook Just Banned All Cryptocurrency Advertising

Facebook banned ads for "financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices."

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Jan 30 2018, 7:44pm

Image: YouTube, Flickr/JD Lasica, Composition by Author

Facebook, the largest social media network on the planet, is banning all advertising having to do with cryptocurrencies, according to a blog post the company shared on Tuesday.

More specifically, the blog post states, Facebook is implementing a new policy that bans advertising having to do with “financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.” This policy covers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and unregulated fundraising events known as Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), but it also bans ads for established financial tools like binary options.

Some examples of ads that will be banned under the new policies are, according to Facebook: “Click here to learn more about our no-risk cryptocurrency that enables instant payments to anyone in the world,” and “Use your retirement funds to buy Bitcoin,” and “New ICO! Buy tokens at a 15% discount now!” The policy is “intentionally broad,” Facebook says, and the company may augment it over time.

“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 blog post states. “That said, there are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs, and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith.”

Cryptocurrencies across the board have skyrocketed in price over the last year, despite some recent downturns. At the same time, some ICOs have managed to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from average people in mere hours. These factors have made aggressive and scammy marketing par for the course in the cryptocurrency world, and there have even been some outright scams.

Last year, an Ethereum startup vanished from the internet after taking $374,000 USD from investors with an ICO. Also in 2017, Canadian authorities fined a Quebec man and sentenced him to jail after his cryptocurrency startup PlexCoin scammed ICO investors out of nearly $15 million. On Sunday, yet another Ethereum startup vanished from the web after taking money from investors, although it doesn’t look like they made much profit at all.

Of course, cryptocurrencies and the decentralized ledger technology that underpins them—the blockchain—are legitimate technologies that could have a bright future ahead of them, and there are many companies and individuals acting in good faith in the space. The ban on Facebook advertising might hurt these entities, but if there’s an upside, it’s that we’ll no longer have to see “crypto-genius” James Altucher’s face in our feeds.

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