Facebook bans ads tied to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

Social network says they’re ‘frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices’

(FILES) This file photo taken on November 20, 2017 shows logos of US online social media and social networking service Facebook.
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were pressed in Congress on January 17, 2018 over their reliance on artificial intelligence and algorithms to keep their powerful platforms clear of violent extremist posts. In a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, executives of the world's top social media companies were praised for their efforts so far to eliminate Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and other jihadist content from the internet.
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Facebook is banning ads on its social network that promote cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings and binary options, saying they’re “frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices”.

The policy will be “intentionally broad” while Facebook works to understand which ads are deceptive or misleading, from companies “not currently operating in good faith,” the company said Tuesday in a blog post.

Facebook, along with its other properties including Instagram, will not allow ads that say "Use your retirement funds to buy Bitcoin" for example, or those that promote binary options trading, a risky derivative with an all-or-nothing payoff.

“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception,” it said.

There have been a number of instances where people or companies have raised money through an ICO, or initial coin offering, with no apparent business behind it. Regulators have recently started to crack down.

The US Securities & Exchange Commission said this week that it received a court order freezing the assets of an alleged initial coin offering scam by AriseBank.

Still, enthusiasm for bitcoin and other volatile digital currencies has minted many millionaires. Public companies have capitalised on the hype, with everything from packaged food makers to sports bra manufacturers seeing shares surge after linking their firms to crypto, sometimes just by name.

Earlier this month, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg referred to cryptocurrencies and other technologies that decentralise power as a trend he was studying in 2018, part of an effort to correct problems on the social network.

While some enthusiasts took this as a positive sign for digital currencies, Mr Zuckerberg wrote at the time that he was looking at both the positive and negative aspects of the technology.

Bitcoin has a history of big run-ups in price followed by steep declines. In 2017, it surged more than 1,700 per cent, and almost touched $20,000. Today, it trades around $10,000.