Facebook has now lifted a ban on cryptocurrency ads that was put in place in January, but any prospective new ads will be subject to a vetting process prior to being approved. The blanket ban was instituted as cryptocurrencies were booming and a lack of regulations saw several high-profile scams take the headlines.
The social media platform took some flak for its first policy, which had the effect of preventing legitimate businesses from buying ads. Twitter, Google, and Snapchat also put similar bans in place at the time. However, some advertisers have found ways to get their ads past filters by deliberately misspelling certain terms like “bitcoin”.
Now, Facebook will have potential advertisers fill out an application form outlining their licensing and the public trading status of their currency in order to determine eligibility. Ads that are related to initial coin offerings and binary options will still be banned as these areas continue to draw scammers. Initial coin offerings, which entail companies creating new virtual coins and offering them for public sale, have been gaining in popularity, with some even attracting celebrity backing. However, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a warning last November about the risks of such investments.
Facebook’s product manager, Rob Leathern, acknowledged in a Facebook Business official post that the new rules mean that not everyone who is interested in advertising will be able to, but he vowed to listen to feedback and reassess the policy as appropriate.
Is Facebook working on its own cryptocurrency?
It is interesting to note that this change of heart comes just as Facebook is reportedly working on developing a cryptocurrency of its own for trades between users. They formed an experimental blockchain group last month helmed by former Messenger exec David Marcus, so observers believe their interest is very serious.
There have also been rumours that they could buy the popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. Marcus sits on the Coinbase board, and their CEO has previously shared his desire to see a billion people adopt cryptocurrency. Facebook’s 2 billion user base could well help make that a reality.
Meanwhile, Google has started its own crackdown on ads related to cryptocurrencies. The ban, which was announced in March, sees all ads related to cryptocurrency, initial coin offerings, trading advice, and wallets forbidden across all of its ad platforms. Like Facebook’s ban, this also shut out legitimate offerings.