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Facebook Makes Cryptocurrency Ad U-Turn Amid Token Launch Speculation

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

Social media giant Facebook says it will change its stance on ads for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology-powered solutions, less than a year and a half after it effectively closed the door to crypto ads.

Source: iStock/paisan191

Facebook’s unequivocal ban, imposed in January 2018, did not last long. In June 2018, it announced that all advertisers would need to obtain “prior written approval,” allowing it to cherry-pick the companies it feels safe working with.

However, per a Facebook release, the company will now go a step further, and will

“narrow this policy to no longer require pre-approval for ads related to blockchain technology, industry news, education or events related to cryptocurrency.”

Facebook will continue to ban certain cryptocurrency businesses from advertising, however, with the door still closed to initial coin offerings (ICOs) and companies that feature information about ICOs on their landing pages. Cryptocurrency exchanges will also “still require prior approval” if they wish to advertise.

Meanwhile, another tech giant, Google, in September 2018, once again opened up for ads with crypto-related content in the US and Japan. At the time of writing, cryptocurrencies are still listed among the content that can be promoted on a limited basis.

The timing of the Facebook announcement is likely no coincidence. As previously reported, a number of respected media sources, ranging from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal, have alleged that Facebook is working on a secret stablecoin project that could allow users to buy products and services via its platform using the new token, or receive rewards for their Facebook activity.

Also, the stablecoin could even see the light of day as early as the next quarter.

The platform, which has c. 2.38 billion users, is allegedly searching for external investment of up to USD 1 billion for the project, and supposedly wants to underpin its value with “a basket of foreign currencies.”

The Wall Street Journal also says that Facebook has spoken to numerous financial entities about its token, including the likes of Visa and Mastercard.

And American media sources earlier reported that the Facebook stablecoin will allow users of WhatsApp, a chat app it also owns, to send each other cryptocurrency payments. The first country that will test the new currency is said to be India.

Meanwhile, according to CNBC, Facebook’s strategy appears to be very similar to its board member Peter Theil’s vision for payments giant PayPal. Theil, now an avid crypto-enthusiast, is the former PayPal CEO, and also fronts crypto brokerage Tagomi.

As far back as 2001, Theil spelled out his vision of an online payments system that would allow internet users to avoid “storing wealth in potentially unstable currencies backed by potentially volatile governments.”