In 2018, global internet giants took a stand against cryptocurrencies. Google, Microsoft, Snapchat, LinkedIn, MailChimp and Facebook all banned crypto ads from their platforms. The reason they gave was that advertisers were using their platforms to promote crypto and ICO scams. Cryptos took quite a beating from the bans, losing value with every announcement.
Months later, Facebook announced that it would once again accept crypto ads. The crypto community received the news with celebration. Facebook is by far the biggest social media platform and a crucial advertising platform. However, according to some startup founders and crypto entrepreneurs, the Zuckerberg-led giant is still blackballing most ads that have even the remotest connection to cryptos.
One of the complainants is John Carvalho, a renowned crypto and blockchain influencer. Carvalho is a member of the Bitrefill team, a Stockholm-based startup that lets its users top up their phones, pay bills and buy vouchers with crypto. According to him, Facebook only announced the readmission of crypto for show. However, when it comes to the actual submissions, an overwhelming majority are rejected for no good reason.
Hey @facebook, @facebookads, can you please fix your anti-Bitcoin advertising & boosting behaviors?! You say people can apply for exemption, but it never works. I can't promote my events, I can't promote by ecommerce site, and I can't promote anything that even mentions crypto…
— John Carvalho (@BitcoinErrorLog) February 7, 2019
Carvalho’s sentiments sparked off a lively debate, with many other crypto entrepreneurs voicing their dissatisfaction with Facebook.
In June last year, Facebook announced a revised ‘prohibited financial products and services policy.’ In a blog post by its product management director, Rob Leathern, it stated:
So starting June 26, we’ll be updating our policy to allow ads that promote cryptocurrency and related content from pre-approved advertisers. But we’ll continue to prohibit ads that promote binary options and initial coin offerings. Advertisers wanting to run ads for cryptocurrency products and services must submit an application to help us assess their eligibility
Was the Promise Kept?
Carvalho’s complaint led to a flurry of other complaints by equally dissatisfied Facebook users. One of these was from Blockspaces, a collaborative workspace for blockchain professionals and entrepreneurs. The firm said that it contacted Facebook months ago using the stipulated procedure for crypto ads. The ad was about a continuing legal education course with a blockchain inclination. Facebook reportedly asked for the supporting documents and the firm provided, including the accreditation certificate from the Florida Bar.
The other complaints were diverse. However, one theme was clear; users with the word crypto in their names were getting rejected much more often. Some were even having ads which are not related to crypto at all rejected.
Despite the alleged bias against crypto, Facebook is reported to be at an advanced stage in the development of its own cryptocurrency. The company has been hiring in its crypto department which is led by David Marcus, a former Coinbase board member.
Further, Facebook’s fully owned Whatsapp is also developing its own crypto. As we reported in December, the new crypto will target the remittance market. India, the world’s largest remittance market will be its first target, unsurprisingly so.
For now, all that the crypto community can do is hope that Facebook will revise its ads criteria. Its director of product, Rob Leathern, stated in January that he would look into the issue.