Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all banned advertisements for ICOs on their platforms. They claim these bans are to protect their users from scammers and phishing attempts but is it really as simple as that?
In recent months, we’ve seen several internet giants rollout comprehensive bans on all ICO and ICO-related advertisements. The justification for these bans is that scammers and frauds are capitalizing on the lack of regulation and preying on innocent users. That would seem reasonable enough — if we could take these companies at their word and the bans weren’t so unduly harsh.
Do companies have the right decide what advertisements we see?
These internet heavyweights understand the need for innovations to appeal to the public — it’s how they became internet giants in the first place, but they have taken measures that cause problems for innovators in the blockchain sector.
Advertising is an important tool for bringing attention to a product or service and, although investing the crypto-space can be risky, do these companies have the right to decide what adverts we can see if the advertisers are not breaking any laws?
Platforms like Facebook profit from showing us advertisements that they think will appeal to us. So, if ICOs or crypto-related services appeal to some users, why would they punish law-abiding startups for the transgressions of others? It doesn’t make sense unless there are other reasons for the bans, and unlike decentralized technology, it’s entirely undemocratic.
Little trust the internet giants
In light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook’s reputation has taken a massive hit. Mark Zuckerberg was forced to admit that he had breached users’ trust, and this leads to a question we should all be asking — can we trust these companies with our data?
Though companies like Facebook tell us they collect our data to improve the service, that is not wholly true. They profit from our data and have a vested interest in keeping it that way. This could explain the hostility shown to ICOs.
Blockchain technology has already shown that it is an incredibly safe system of exchange, and scores of developers are working on solutions for the storage and transfer of data. The internet giants will be aware of this, and it should worry them, especially after Facebook’s failure to protect its users. If an innovation was to gain widespread adoption, their dominance could be challenged if people and their data move elsewhere.
ICO ban issuers will be considering implementing blockchain
Zuckerberg is openly studying cryptocurrencies, and it would be naïve to think that Google and others aren’t doing the same, but despite their dominance, they are on the back foot when it comes to DLT technology. In the wake of scandals and technological evolution, their survival depends increasingly on their ability to keep ahead of innovation, and the bans on advertisements could be a tactic to delay competitors. Whatever the case, the bans have undeniably caused FUD amongst the crypto community, and that only serves the status quo.
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.