Facebook ban on cryptocurrency ads curbs education. Bad actors still thrive.

I'll never let go.
I’ll never let go.

Image: nurphoto/getty images

What’s the difference between BITCOIN and BITC0IN? 

Well, using latter might help you reach millions of people thanks to Facebook’s poorly enforced rules of advertising cryptocurrencies. 

Facebook announced last month that it would begin prohibiting ads promoting “financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings, or cryptocurrency.”

But like many Facebook updates and actions, it’s far from perfect. Tech founder Matthieu Suiche pointed out this Facebook ad last week that successfully broke through the rules by using “BITC0IN” in the shared text and article headline. 

Cryptocurrency and bitcoin aren’t the only words of concern. There’s also the popular Block (Chain) a.k.a. blockchain, as BuzzFeed’s Ryan Mac shared. 

Facebook’s rules are broad and could change, the company admitted. 

“This policy is intentionally broad while we work to better detect deceptive and misleading advertising practices, and enforcement will begin to ramp up across our platforms including Facebook, Audience Network and Instagram,” Rob Leathern, Facebook’ product management director, said in a statement accompanying the announcement.  

“We will revisit this policy and how we enforce it as our signals improve,” he continued. 

Facebook restricting ads can be a good thing to help prevent the spread of fraudulent cryptocurrency-related products and ICOs, as my colleague Stan Schroeder wrote. 

“My personal Facebook feed has lately been swarming with ads promoting ICOs and promising impossibly high returns, which should ring an alarm bell for any potential investor,” he wrote. 

The rules affect companies who argue their offerings are, in fact, regulated. Gab, a Twitter-like service that vehemently defends free speech, tried to advertise its ICO on Facebook this week and failed. 

Companies hoping to share educational materials and consulting services also fall under the Facebook’s restrictions. For example, Crypto Tax Prep, a service to help people pay taxes on crypto payouts, is unable to advertise. Draper University also has been unable to share ads about their courses on cryptocurrency. 

“Facebook has banned anything with the word ‘crypto’ in it, and both of our clients are actually providing a valuable service – not actually selling currency,” Jena Luckman, director of communications for digital agency JUICE that works with those groups, told Mashable. 

Such restrictions means Facebook is limiting its community’s access to helpful information. Of course, these rules only apply to advertising. Facebook users could share crypto-related posts on their personal timelines or on Pages or in Groups. 

But when it comes to searching for new audiences, crypto-focused groups and individual will have to stick to the BITC0IN and the Block (Chain).  

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