Google is taking their responsibilities towards their users very seriously of late. Every update in how they view the content that they deliver to the consumer boosts the quality to page one and sinks the dross to…well, whoever looks beyond page two anyway? They are also keen to stamp out fraud of all kinds, hence their announcement that they plan to ban any and all cryptocurrency advertising, including for ICOs.
Bitcoin, Ethereum and the like have fallen foul of a commitment to clamp down hard on unregulated financial products.
Does this mean cryptocurrency is dodgy after all?
Not at all. Google’s ban also covers other speculative financial products too, namely binary options, CFDs (contracts for difference), and foreign exchange markets. In other words, classic “the value of your investment can – and probably will – go down as well as up” products. All investments are tinged with an element of risk, but it’s a fact that some are a safer bet for the cautious investor than others. Google are doing their best to protect the unwary.
What will the ban cover?
In addition to advertising ICOs, Google will no longer show advertising for wallets, or for cryptocurrency exchanges. More importantly, gambling ads will disappear where they are for virtual items which are worth fiat currency.
If you use Facebook, you will already have noticed a ban on cryptocurrency adverts. If you’re a fan of Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert (even though he’s not so much of a fan of Bitcoin!), you might have seen some of the fallout from a company suggesting that he was behind a particular binary trading scheme in which people then lost substantial amounts of money. He wasn’t, but in classic scammer fashion, there’s nothing like an air of legitimacy to hook the unwary.
However, it should be noted that this ad in particular was still appearing on Facebook as late as mid-March 2018 – around six weeks after the company’s supposed ban came into effect.
What should I do?
Be wary. As the above example indicates, it is possible for the scammers to slip through the net, and let’s face it, nobody is chasing your investment harder or more aggressively than someone who wants your money more than you do, and not necessarily entirely transparently either.
The explosion in popularity of cryptocurrencies over the past year means that it’s still an attractive area for the dedicated scam artist to focus on. IPOs have always been popular vehicles for raising millions of pounds and disappearing into the ether, so it should be no surprise that ICOs should tread the same path.
In short, use your head. Scammers can be clever, and even with the blanket ban, you shouldn’t automatically assume that everything you see is a safe place to invest or transfer money. Keep an eye on your favourite cryptocurrency news sources, and a healthy sense of scepticism.
In conclusion, an advertising ban will lead to a more cautious and trusted market. In the long term, that can only be a good thing for cryptocurrencies.