Canadian Regulator: FBI Encouraged Facebook To Remove Crypto Ads, Google Should Follow Suit

A senior investigator at the Manitoba Securities Commission has revealed that the choice by Facebook to remove cryptocurrency-related ads was not brought on by the company’s collective nagging conscience, but by pressure from the FBI. Google might soon be feeling that pressure as well.

  • On January 30, 2018, Facebook’s product management director, Rob Leathern, informed the social media site’s base, “We’ve created a new policy that prohibits ads that promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency.”

    Leathern went on to claim, “This policy is part of an ongoing effort to improve the integrity and security of our ads, and to make it harder for scammers to profit from a presence on Facebook.” 

    New details have since emerged, as reported by The Times of Israel, which reveal the advertising ban may have been the result of outside pressure against Facebook by federal authorities:

    “What happened is that Canada’s Binary Options Task Force as well as the FBI explained to Facebook what the concerns were and that these types of ads are leading to people becoming victims.”

    According to Jason Roy, a senior investigator at the Manitoba Securities Commission and chairman of Canada’s Binary Options Task Force, Google generates a significant amount of “paid traffic for fraudulent binary options, cryptocurrency and ICO companies,” and Roy is seeking to apply similar pressure to the tech giant. “We’ve been talking to Google and had similar discussions and are waiting for them to take similar action.”

    Roy revealed that, for several months, the FBI has been working to prevent these popular websites from pushing products that might turn out to be scams seeking to capitalize upon the current cryptocurrency gold rush. 

    “I think everybody is trying to figure out what’s going on,” said Roy seeking to define the moment. “There’s just been an explosion of different ICOs and new tokens and crazy offerings. You’re seeing ICOs that are raising large amounts of money and there’s nothing behind them in certain cases, but members of the public are so hyped they’re throwing money at them.” 

    Fraudulent advertisements related to politics on websites such as Facebook have already charged this issue with tension, prompting Congress to issue the Honest Ads Act, which would regulate political advertising online the way similar stipulations set standards for television, radio, and printed media. 

    Facebook has previously lobbied for self-regulation in this regard, although some lawmakers believe Facebook should be regulated, at least in part, by the federal government.

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