Meta (Facebook) loosens its crypto ad ban ever so slightly

Following the crypto boom and ICO mania of December 2017 and January 2018, which saw the price of Bitcoin and Ethereum double in value and hundreds of initial coin offerings raise billions of dollars in crypto. At the time, Facebook’s knee-jerk response, along with other advertising platforms like Google, Twitter and Bing Ads, was to ban ads promoting products related to cryptocurrencies, ICOs and decentralised finance.

Facebook updated its advertising policy in January 2018 to unilaterally ban all cryptocurrency and ICO adverts, even those of licensed businesses. The decision was based on the opinion that many companies advertising binary options, ICOs and cryptocurrencies are not currently operating in good faith.

In June 2018, the company updated its crypto ad ban and allowed some products to be advertised with permission, such as events and news and information services and cryptocurrency businesses that are licensed or registered with a handful of authorities.

In the years that followed, Meta advanced its cryptocurrency initiatives, such as its blockchain payment network Diem (formerly Libra) and cryptocurrency wallet Novi (formerly Calibra), while prohibiting potential competitors from advertising on Facebook, Instagram or the Audience Network.

Although Meta recently shuffled its priorities to focus on the metaverse rather than cryptocurrencies, it seems the company has tweaked the rules in its favour. There has been a lot of hype about Meta loosening advertising restrictions for crypto-related businesses.

However, the recent changes to Meta’s advertising policy concerning cryptocurrency products and services does very little to support advertisers in the sector. The updated policy simply defines 27 regulatory agencies the company recognises but still excludes some, such as the Lithuanian Financial Crime Investigation Service (FCIS), where Binance, the world’s largest exchange, is registered.

Essentially, the latest changes seem to allow NFT advertising without licensing or pre-approval from Meta. The company has a lot riding on its metaverse ambitions, and it seems NFTs play a big role in those ambitions. Meta has effectively only given the green light to NFT advertisers.