Facebook has rolled out an application process for advertising cryptocurrency products or services on the social media platform. The approach is a mild reversal from its previous ban on crypto ads, which was implemented in January amid consumer protection concerns.
"In the last few months, we've looked at the best way to refine this policy – to allow some ads while also working to ensure that they're safe," wrote Facebook product management director Rob Leathern.
"Advertisers wanting to run ads for cryptocurrency products and services must submit an application to help us assess their eligibility – including any licenses they have obtained, whether they are traded on a public stock exchange, and other relevant public background on their business," Leathern explained.
"Given these restrictions, not everyone who wants to advertise will be able to do so. But we'll listen to feedback, look at how well this policy works and continue to study this technology so that, if necessary, we can revise it over time."
Initial coin offerings (ICOs) and binary options (cryptocurrency-linked or otherwise) remain forbidden.
Facebook's new policy debuted just one day after the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed (paywall) about possible antitrust issues related to the crypto ad ban. The writer, antitrust attorney Mark Epstein, also raised concerns about similar policies adopted by Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.
In the last several months, each of these heavy hitters from the technology industry has demonstrated interest in blockchains.
Facebook, for one, created its own blockchain team (led by former Messenger lead David Marcus), but there has been little to no information since that splashy May announcement. Before that, ETHNews reported on Google's interest in blockchain technology for auditing services and its online cloud service.
Then, in April, Amazon Web Services (AWS) released its AWS Blockchain Templates. Most recently, Microsoft partnered with EY (Ernst & Young) to work on a blockchain-based content rights and royalties management project.
For now, many in the blockchain/cryptocurrency community rely heavily on existing platforms for communication, hosting, and promotional efforts. Today, Facebook and its peers function as gatekeepers to the rest of the world.
It's vital to pay attention to their corporate development efforts while critically examining how these influential companies treat projects that could threaten their business models. There's always a risk that overzealous titans will claim a technology for their own or even kill disruption in the crib. In an attention-based economy, advertising access could mean the difference between life and death.