Industry experts are calling Google’s decision to ban crypto related advertisements “heavy-handed” and “unethical,” citing the company’s own blockchain ambitions.

The new policy, which comes into effect this month, has already created panic amongst marketers, who have been officially thrown out of Facebook and Twitter as well. Talking to The Independent, a fund manager raised questions on the ethical viability of the self-imposed ban by the company.

Google’s Ban the Last Nail in the Coffin of Crypto Ads

Major internet companies and social media networks have already banned cryptocurrency advertisements from their platforms. Following suit, Google announced in March that they, too, would factor a similar restriction across their connected services.

In a blog post, the company wrote:

“Ads for the following will no longer be allowed to serve … Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice.”

Ed Cooper, head of mobile at digital banking startup Revolut, noted:

“Unfortunately, the fact that this ban is a blanket ban will mean that legitimate cryptocurrency businesses which provide valuable services to users will be unfairly caught in the crossfire.”

He added:

“A more targeted approach would definitely be preferable: it would seem heavy-handed for example to put a blanket ban on all ads for job postings, anti-virus software or charities just because ads for these products and service are also sometimes used as an entry point by scammers to target consumers.”

Google Ads website on a computer screen. Source: Shutterstock.com
Google Ads website on a computer screen. Source: Shutterstock.com

Conflict of Interest at the Company

Experts are also weighing in on the motivations behind this move. To some, avoiding frauds arising out of online advertising doesn’t seem to be the only reason the platform served this ban. Phillip Nunn, CEO of Manchester-based investment firm Blackmore Group, said to The Independent:

“I understand that Facebook and Google are under a lot of pressure to regulate what their users are reading, but they are still advertising gambling websites and other unethical practices.”

He added:

“I suspect the ban has been implemented to fit in with potential plans to introduce their own cryptocurrency to the market in the near future and therefore removing other crypto adverts allows them to do it on their own terms.”

Courting Ethereum Founder for a Project

Alphabet Inc.’s most prized possession has been linked to blockchains and cryptocurrencies in the past as well. In May, the company was called out by Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin. He shared a tweet with a screenshot of an email, allegedly sent by a Google executive who wanted to rope him in for a hush project. The email read:

“Hi Vitalik, I hope you are doing well and enjoying the weekend!” the message from Ms. Garcia stated. “[…] Google make sense for you now or in the near future[…].”

He went on to conduct a poll and ask his followers if he should join. After more than 2,000 votes, he deleted the tweet.

The company offered no comments or clarifications. They have tried to be as quiet about their projects as possible. A spokesperson talked briefly and vaguely about their blockchain projects in March, saying:

“Like many new technologies, we have individuals in various teams exploring the potential use of blockchain, but it’s too early for us to speculate about any possible uses or plans.”

Facebook imposed a ban in January, but it hasn’t worked in their favor yet. Marketers easily circumvented their algorithms, using “c-currency” instead of cryptocurrency and “bitc0in” instead of Bitcoin. It will be interesting to note how Google manages to keep its platform clean and differentiate between frauds and genuine projects.

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