An Australian firm, JPB Liberty, has filed a lawsuit against several major tech and social media companies on behalf of the cryptocurrency investors who have suffered losses because of the infamous ban of crypto-related ads. If the complaint goes through, it could cost the corporations somewhere between $600 million and $300 billion.
The Deal With the Ban
Back in 2018, Google, Facebook, and Twitter banned cryptocurrency ads on their platforms. Apparently, these measures were meant to help protect the public from scamming activities that were coming with a vengeance from various ICO projects. However, all the legit blockchain and cryptocurrency companies had to deal with the consequences too and, obviously, they were not happy about it.
A lot of things have changed since then. Facebook gave the green light to blockchain and educational projects, as well as allowed the promotion of events and crypto space news. Google made an exception for advertising American and Japanese exchanges, at least the legit ones. And even though Twitter has yet to make a move, it’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, has endorsed Bitcoin and crypto repeatedly recently. As for YouTube, the video streaming platform has had a strange relationship with crypto too. Although the ads aren’t officially banned, there have been incidents when YouTube started actively deleting videos related to crypto. They did restore them after the crypto community got riled up.
However, the strict anti-ad policy hasn’t been canceled completely and crypto-related companies are still not able to promote their services on the most popular online platforms freely.
No wonder the community decided to put up a fight.
The Motives Behind the Ban
The question is why these corporate giants are still not allowing cryptocurrency ads. The ICO era is long gone, the tech has proven itself, Facebook has tried to issue its own cryptocurrency, and Twitter’s CEO is mentioning Bitcoin whenever possible.
The fact that Google, Facebook and Twitter, the world’s largest online advertising platforms, do not allow crypto projects to be discovered raises concerns.
One theory is that there’s a power game involved. A growing number of blockchain-based social medial platforms that pay content creators instead of using users’ data for their own benefit are not allowed to promote themselves via the ads too. Could this be that the social media giants are simply getting rid of competition? Blockchain social media promises to be a lot better than the centralized sites by not having censorship, allowing users to monetize their content easily, and not claiming the rights to that content.
JPB Liberty’s CEO Andrew Hamilton is sure that the ban was not about fighting scammers at all. In a comment to Cointelegraph, he mentioned that it was right before announcing Libra when Facebook actually softened its ad policy. You wouldn’t want your own crypto project to be banned on your platform, would you?
The situation with Twitter is probably the strangest one. Apart from Reddit and the slowly dying bitcointalk forum, the presence of the crypto community on Twitter is stronger than ever. Moreover, as we’ve already mentioned, Twitter’s CEO is openly advocating for Bitcoin and the fact that crypto ads are still not allowed there is quite odd. Most likely, this cannot go on for too long and the situation should be soon resolved in one way or another.
Lack of Regulations and Consequences
On one hand, governments around the world are loosening their grip on crypto. On the other, not in the global way that can actually change what’s going on in the industry. The lack of regulation is probably the main reason behind the crypto-ad ban. It’s always easier to forbid something instead of figuring out how to moderate it. You cannot really blame it all on scammers, they always find a loophole anyway whether they target people who deal with crypto, traditional investing, services, and basically any other business.
And there’s more to it. Ripple is trying to sue YouTube for letting scammers publish videos on fake token airdrops. Ripple blames the platform for slow reactions and poor security measures.
Scammers are active all across the streaming platform. Con men are successfully posting video ads on YouTube suggesting sending them crypto promising to return twice as much. And what’s worse, with time they are getting more creative. One of the latest tricks is to pretend they want to hire a blogger and ask them to test their ‘product’, something cloud-mining-like (all cloud mining is a scam, in case you’re wondering). Once a blogger installs the file, which is in fact malware, it changes all the passwords on the channel and scammers start taking advantage of it immediately.
They post their ‘signature’ videos encouraging the followers to send out their crypto. Of course, this cannot last long as the owner of the channel as well his audience will report the attack, but a few hours are enough to trick quite a few people. Remember the recent Twitter hack?
Not only is this unreasonable policy unfavorable for crypto projects, but it can potentially harm the public in many ways. At this stage, cryptocurrencies are still treated as something negative by many people who have no proper information on the topic.
When the news about the lawsuit came out, a lot of people commented on it that they would be better off without crypto ads anyway. But does it really make sense?
The problem with cryptocurrency scams is not cryptocurrency. The real problem is the lack of knowledge on the subject. Those people who lose their money usually do so because they do not know how to use the tech and do not even know that they are supposed to write down their mnemonics. And while governments are refusing to properly regulate it and big tech companies are taking their lead, the majority of people will keep thinking that Bitcoin, blockchain, and crypto are just another ponzi scheme.
Education is an important part of every endeavor and banning things is not necessarily helping with it. Think of this for a while. What is better – to ban any mention of cryptocurrency whatsoever, or give a chance to the well-established and trusted companies to explain the basics? But how can they do that if they don’t even have the opportunity to introduce themselves?