In a document published on Tuesday, Google announced that it would be making changes to its financial products policy. These changes include a ban on advertisements for cryptocurrency and related content, ‘Including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice.’
Google isn’t the first big name to take similar action
The ban, which comes into effect this June, indicates a move by Google to clamp down on the number of scammers using their services, for illicit activities and follows a similar move made by the social media giant Facebook in January.
In an interview with CNBC, Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, said, ‘We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution’.
Such caution is undoubtedly wise, as any crypto-enthusiast would agree — given the lack of regulation in the crypto world, but such a hardline approach will also shut out genuine ICOs. This will be a massive setback for the market and will likely mean some startups are going to struggle to acquire the financial backing they need.
A setback for crypto
Widespread adoption still feels like a distant dream for most of us in the crypto community, and news like this can only be seen as a setback. For the majority, crypto is something they have heard about but don’t understand, and without some understanding, it’s unlikely that those people will ever trust the technology. I’m willing to bet most of us have an older relative or friend who refuses to use online banking or debit cards because they don’t trust that it’s safe to do so.
Social media and search engines like Google are ideal platforms to learn about crypto and access relevant news, but it’s evident that the authorities running these institutions don’t trust the technology either. That’s problematic. The internet has become a tool through which we view and understand most of our world. For all it’s faults, the internet has made information accessible, and that the importance of accessibility cannot be overstated, as while the giants of the internet are hostile towards crypto, the technology probably won’t appeal to anyone unwilling to painstakingly research and question it. It would restrict the appeal of the technology to a relatively tiny community of enthusiasts.
Michael is an English and Creative writing graduate of Liverpool John Moore’s University, a former editor of several magazines, and a crypto-currency enthusiast. He is mostly interested in crypto-legislation and the potential of decentralized technology to change the world.