The world's biggest social network, Facebook, announced yesterday that it will no longer allow for the advertisement of "financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency".
According to Rob Leathern, Product Management Director at Facebook, the goal of this policy is to prevent scammers from advertising shady ICOs and fishy Forex platforms to Facebook users. However, this might mean Steemit and other Steem-based platforms may have some serious problems turning to Facebook for user recruitment.
As the current social media manager for @utopian-io , this worries me somewhat. As a tech journalist - it fascinates me.
(Image Source: bonafide.news)
The REAL Reason Facebook is Banning Crypto Ads?
We can't know, but we can guess.
The Big Blue likes to show good intentions, but the true agenda of Mark Zuckerberg and his board of directors is usually what hides behind such bold moves. I've already seen some Steemians screaming it's because Facebook is scared of Steemit. With all due respect to Steemit, Facebook is hardly threatened by a platform with a crappy UX and no marketing department or business plan. No offense, Steemit INC.
Facebook thrives on ads, especially in competitive arenas where CPCs can reach sky-high sums. The cryptocurrency and ICO explosion in the past year created quite a bit competition in this field. In addition, no regulator came knocking on Facebook's door, asking to moderate ads for financial products or services.
Why is it that a bank can advertise on Facebook, but a cryptocurrency exchange cannot? And why is Facebook handing Google (and other competitors) such a huge market?
Is a Facebook Coin Coming?
Very possibly so.
With Telegram announcing its plan to launch an ICO, attracting some major VC investors, and Mark Zuckerberg openly writing in his New Year's resolution that he's interested in the potentials cryptocurrencies and decentralization, it's not unlikely that we'll see a Facebook cryptocurrency emerge sooner rather than later. Perhaps even as early as 2018. But there's no way for us to know, even after reading the Zuck's new year resolution regarding the subjects of decentralization and cryptocurrencies.
"With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it. There are important counter-trends to this --like encryption and cryptocurrency -- that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people's hands. But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I'm interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services. This will be a serious year of self-improvement and I'm looking forward to learning from working to fix our issues together." - Mark Zuckerberg
(Image Source: CryptoTime.News)
So Why Ban It?
At this point you might be asking: "If Facebook is going to launch a cryptocurrency, why ban advertising related services now? Pure spite?"
Perhaps it's pure corporate evil, messing with the competition long before launching a product. Personally, I believe that it might be something else - an attempt to clear the playing field of scammers (and potential scammers) in order to increase the level of confidence and security users have in cryptocurrencies for when the Facebook coin hits the exchanges with the full power of the Big Blue whale behind it. The last thing Facebook would want is to address a user base burned by the ICO craze with their own currency.
But What About Steemit?
It's yet unclear how this will affect Steemit ads on Facebook. I don't currently have a campaign set up, but I have half a mind to run a short local campaign for Utopian just to see what happens. If we can no longer advertise Steemit on Facebook, we'll simply advertise elsewhere. Twitter, reddit, tumblr and Google are still our friends if Facebook doesn't want our money anymore.
My "fear" is that Facebook's decision to distance itself from cryptocurrency-related businesses and websites might cause it to go beyond banning the ads. Steemit website links on the platform already get embarrassingly low exposure on profiles and pages (like YouTube links), but what happens if Facebook bans Steemit, busy.org, dlink, dtube and utopian-io links altogether?
It would be easy for the company to claim the websites promote scammy content because a lot of the posts are about cryptocurrencies and trading, and ban it in their systems. I've seen it happen and turn into a lengthy and exhausting lawsuit (maybe @jonklinger can tell you about). But will they?
The Duality of Zuck
To me, from a tech journalist's perspective, Mark Zuckerberg's duality toward cryptocurrencies and decentralization is interesting. Because it is the centralization of power in the social media and online advertising market that gives The Zuck the ability to censor cryptocurrency related ads with the click of a button. Not only that, but the fact that Zuck's post revealed his interest in both less than a MONTH before dropping the bomb on all crypto-related business advertising on his platform? Just goes to show how little connection there is between what Facebook says and what Facebook does.
Do you think we'll see a Facebook Cryptocurrency in 2018? Will Facebook ban links to Steem frontends? And what about other social networks (and Google)? Will they follow suit?
Share your thoughts and conspiracies in the comments!