Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes his keynote speech during Facebook Inc’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019.
Facebook on Wednesday 8th May 2019 said it is loosening its ban on ads related to blockchain and cryptocurrency, allowing more businesses working on those technologies to promote their efforts on the social network.
Facebook first started blocking ads promoting cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings in January 2018 over concerns that users might be scammed by initial coin offerings offered by some crypto start-ups. The company loosened its ban in June to allow ads from advertisers who received prior written approval. Now, it is further rolling back the policy so that many types of ads will no longer require approval.
“We’ve listened to feedback and assessed the policy’s effectiveness,” Facebook said Wednesday in a blog post. “While we will still require people to apply to run ads promoting cryptocurrency, starting today, we will narrow this policy to no longer require pre-approval for ads related to blockchain technology, industry news, education or events related to cryptocurrency.”
The company has come under scrutiny over the wide reach of this policy over the past year.
In October, CNBC highlighted the ban’s impact on Bloom, a San Francisco start-up that uses blockchain technology to help people keep control over their personal data online. Bloom had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook ads to promote its services, but the saw all of its ads suddenly banned by the social network in October.
“It’s good to see them (hopefully) evolve their stance on new technology that puts users in control of their data,” said Shannon Wu of Bloom in a statement.
Facebook’s rollback of this ban comes amid reports that the company is working on its own blockchain project. In December, Bloomberg reported that the company is building a so-called stablecoin that will allow WhatsApp users to send cryptocurrency payments to one another. Facebook has been in talks with dozens of financial firms and e-commerce companies to support the initiative, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.
In a survey on the heels of the Facebook-crypto news, LendEDU found that while only 7% of adult Americans have ever invested in virtual currency, 18% would be interested in investing in a cryptocurrency created by the social media giant.
Ads Including ICO – Still Banned
However, from the company they said:
“People who want to promote cryptocurrency and closely related products, such as cryptocurrency exchanges and mining software and hardware, will still have to go through a review process. This process will continue to take into account licences they have obtained, whether they are traded on a public stock exchange (or are a subsidiary of a public company) and other relevant public background on their business.
An ad that directs to a landing page that features a restricted product, such as a cryptocurrency exchange, will still require prior approval. Or, if the landing page includes a prohibited product, such as an initial coin offering (ICO), we will reject it.”
Last week it was reported that Facebook is secretly working on its cryptocurrency-based payments system.
Dubbed as the Project Libra, the report suggests that Facebook is already in talks with payment processing giants Mastercard and Visa. The Facebook Coin is likely to be a stablecoin, pegged by the U.S. Dollar, and underpinned by the blockchain technology.
Tara Annison, Technical Product Manager of the PR9 Network, an institutional crypto trading and settlement platform, said that it might also represent a crucial watershed moment in how industry players are perceived.
“It’s not just start-ups and crypto-based businesses who are interested in blockchain technology and the power of cryptocurrency, but established businesses such as Facebook too.”
Will the Mighty Google Follow Again?
However, it is important to remember why this company– which has 2.38 billion active monthly users as of March 31, 2019 – put a ban in the first place. Back in 2017, there were plenty of scams as money poured into the crypto sector. ICOs with improvised WordPress websites and unverifiable, and often faked, teams were able to raise hundreds of millions from unsuspecting investors.
To combat the sudden explosion of suspicious advertisements on the platform, in January of 2018, Facebook announced a new policy which outright banned cryptocurrency ads, saying that these ads were frequently “misleading or deceptive”.
Facebook was not the only one and it was Google who followed banning cryptocurrency ads in March of 2018. In June of 2018, Facebook loosened its policy to allow for crypto-related ads from select pre-approved advertisers and Google followed in September. Will the Google follow again, or maybe make the step towards – it’s for us to see.