Facebook reverses cryptocurrency ad ban, ICOs still barred

Posted: 27 June 2018 10:57 am

The principled crypto ad ban may not have been worth the headache.

Facebook has reversed its cryptocurrency advertising ban and is now accepting advertisers. However, ICO advertising is still barred.

Facebook's initial crypto advertising ban kicked off a line of similar moves from giants like Google, Twitter, and Bing, and the loosening of the rules might be the start of similar steps elsewhere.

Why the rollback?

There are several possible reasons why Facebook would roll back on its crypto ad ban just a few months after putting it in place. The main reason is probably because it's just good business.

Crypto is naturally social, community-focused and a distinct field of interest in its own right, so Facebook might be a uniquely effective tool for reaching into those communities and advertising to specific users. Barring ICOs keeps out some of the most blatant scams, and now that the SEC and other regulatory bodies around the world are clearing up the legal status of different kinds of crypto, while the space itself gets more legitimacy, it's more apparent that there are opportunities for legitimate advertising.

It could also help avoid problems with being left behind as cryptocurrency-like systems make their way into the real world. In the medium term, an outright crypto ad ban actually leaves more grey areas than this new kind of semi-ban.

For example, would an airline be able to advertise on Facebook if it has a blockchain-based loyalty points program? Technically it probably shouldn't because those frequent flyer points are arguably a cryptocurrency. At the same time, it obviously should be able to because it's obviously an airline, not a crypto company. Any serious advertising platform won't be able to keep an outright ban on crypto for long without running into these kinds of problems, so dropping the ban makes a lot of sense.

It might also help Facebook cover itself legally. An ad ban is easier said than done. There have been plenty of scam-esque ads creeping in around the edges, such as ads for unlicensed and unregulated crypto derivatives. Facebook is being sued for failing to prevent these damaging ads. A key point in the lawsuit might be that the ads themselves aren't even allowed under Facebook Terms and Conditions, yet it keeps accepting them and putting them back up. In that respect, Facebook's ad ban reversal might just be the site accepting that there's little point in sacrificing revenue just to make rules it can't enforce.

Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC, NANO

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade. Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

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