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Google wants to protect you from scams.
Google is making a timely change to its advertising policy. Starting in June, it won’t allow ads promoting cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), on its advertising platform.
The move should help prevent scammers from taking advantage of an eager public trying to get in on the latest get-rich-quick scheme. Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, told the Wall Street Journal that the advertising policy update was designed to “prevent consumer harm.”
While cryptocurrency investments can be shaky at best, some scammers have been running online ads to promote fake cryptocurrency schemes. Other ads will secretly run code in the background of your computer in order to mine cryptocurrencies, in what’s called crypto-jacking. In 2017, Google says that it removed 130 million such ads that mined for cryptocurrency in the background.
The update is outlined on Google’s Advertising Services support site and includes a handful of other volatile or risky financial subjects such as binary options and financial spread betting. Facebook made a similar move back in January in an effort to prevent “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.” While Facebook’s policy was left intentionally broad in order to accommodate for a growing and evolving list of deceptive practices and keyword terms, Google’s advertising changes target specific phrases more specifically.
Since the Wall Street Journal reported the Google ban on Tuesday, Bitcoin has dropped; it’s down 6 percent, as of Wednesday morning. Several other cryptocurrencies also saw a slight fall, according to Ars Technica.
Cryptocurrencies rapidly shot to prominence in late 2017 after values surged around $20,000. In the new year, values fell back down somewhat, but fervor around the exciting “new” investment arena remains high. Well-timed cryptocurrency investments have turned some into millionaires, but without federal regulation like the stock market has in place, the crypto market has been subject to a growing number of scams proliferating largely unchecked.
Google—and other advertising platforms—banning cryptocurrency ads is one step toward offering vulnerable consumers extra protection against such scams.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.