Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Snapchat have all officially banned cryptocurrency-related ads.
Facebook announced its ban on crypto-related advertisements back in January 2018. Google banned crypto ads in March 2018, and Snapchat quietly banned similar advertisements just this past week.
Why are the world’s largest social media networks and advertising companies banning cryptocurrency-related content? Are these companies afraid of the upcoming cryptocurrency revolution? Are they protecting searchers? Or do they have their own selfish interests at heart?
The answer, as you might expect, consists of several different components.
Why Did Ad Networks Ban Cryptocurrency-related Content?
If you talk to the social media networks, they’ll tell you the move is designed to help users avoid scams. These social media platforms acknowledge that there are plenty of legitimate companies in the space – but there are also plenty of scams, MLMs, and fraudulent actors.
As one Facebook rep explained it in a statement to Mashable, their ban on all cryptocurrency-related advertising is “intentionally broad” because Facebook is actively trying to improve its detection of frauds of scams. While they finetune that detection system, they’ve blacklisted an entire industry.
That same Facebook rep explained that the company is “committed to revisiting and refining this policy as our signals improve to allow for non-related products and services.”
You can view Facebook’s advertising policy on cryptocurrencies here. That policy was updated in January 2018 with the latest information about the ICO and crypto-related content ban. As you can see in that policy, Facebook was specifically cracking down on content like, “New ICO! Buy tokens at a 15% discount now!” or “Use your retirement funds to buy bitcoin!”
“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception. That said, there are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith.”
“This policy is intentionally broad while we work to better detect deceptive and misleading advertising practices…We will revisit this policy and how we enforce it as our signals improve. We also understand that we may not catch every ad that should be removed under this new policy, and encourage our community to report content that violates our Advertising Policies. People can report any ad on Facebook by clicking on the upper right-hand corner of the ad.”
Ultimately, the ban on cryptocurrency advertisements can be condensed to one basic sentence:
There are too many scams in the cryptocurrency industry; we can’t filter out everything, so we’re banning all cryptocurrency-related content until we can figure things out
That’s what the crypto advertising ban on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Google boils down to.
Is This Bad News for the Crypto Industry?
When an entire industry gets banned from 95% of online advertising platforms in a 3 month period, it’s natural to think that’s bad for the industry.
Some cryptocurrency companies are freaking out about the ban. Smaller companies, for example, seeking to establish a name for themselves or advertise an ICO might struggle to achieve name recognition under the ban.
However, some members of the cryptocurrency industry are actually welcoming the ban, saying,
“The only people who are disappointed in Twitter’s purported ban of crypto ads are the scammers and con artists.”
Basically, these optimists argue that the ban will weed out the unsavory companies that have given the cryptocurrency industry a bad name. For many people, their first interactions with crypto occur through a social media advertisement. If that person is scammed, loses money, or experiences fraud after clicking on a cryptocurrency advertisement, then that can leave behind a very negative impression.
What’s the Next Step for the Crypto Industry?
It’s rare for an entire industry to be permanently banned from all major advertising platforms. It seems unlikely that the cryptocurrency ban will be a blanket ban until the end of time.
Here’s the optimistic view: the market will eventually stabilize and bad actors will be eliminated. The industry’s reputation will be cleaned up, and ideally, at some point in the future, advertising networks will ease some of the bans.
Of course, that’s the “ideal” situation. Pessimists could take the opposite view for the future, arguing that the lack of exposure to the crypto industry will eventually kill off everything – including the good and bad companies. Bitcoin will be a fad, and we’ll forget about 99% of altcoins 10 years from now.
Here’s what I think: the internet went through this phase with the Dot Com Bubble. We had a crazy new technology called the internet. People knew it had potential, but few people knew how to maximize that potential. This led to scams, low-quality companies, and even legitimate companies that couldn’t fulfill promises to investors.
With the Dot Com Bubble, the bubble eventually burst – but the internet obviously didn’t die. It will be interesting to see if the same thing occurs in the cryptocurrency industry.