Google Joins Facebook in Crypto Crackdown

And cryptocurrencies plunge.

You’ve seen the ads here and around the Internet, served by Google: “30X better than Bitcoin” or “The Next Bitcoin,” and the like, promising to make instant millionaires out of those that buy whatever the advertiser has to offer. The American dream. The entire cryptocurrency space is effervescent with scams. This includes the companies that added “blockchain” to their names in order to propel their share prices up by many multiples. When those shares then totally collapsed, they took billions of real dollars formerly owned by naive gamblers with them.

You’ve seen the ads on Google search and other Google platforms, also served by Google’s automated ad server Adsense, touting the latest ICOs (initial coin offerings). Each ICO creates a new cryptocurrency, or “token.” There are now over 1,550 cryptocurrencies and tokens out there. Anyone can do them.

And to promote them, they advertise via ad exchanges, including Google’s Adsense. It’s part of a big wealth transfer scheme: the issuer takes your hated dollar or other fiat currency and runs with it.

Google’s parent Alphabet — it makes about 84% of its revenues from selling ads — along with just about anyone publishing on the Internet, including my WOLF STREET media mogul empire, have been benefiting from the crypto ads. But Google will be blocking those ads – along with ads for some other iffy financial products.

Effective June 2018, according to its latest missive on its financial services policy, Google will “restrict” ads on its exchange for “Contracts for Difference, rolling spot forex, and financial spread betting.” In addition, it will outright block ads on its exchange that promote “Binary options and synonymous products,” and the biggie that it will block:

Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice).

So this covers just about the entire crypto space. Scott Spencer, Google’s director of sustainable ads, explains on CNBC:

“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.”

Google’s crackdown is following in the footsteps of Facebook, which published similar policies at the end of January, contending that “Misleading or deceptive ads have no place on Facebook”:

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.

It cited some “examples” of what will be prohibited:

  • “Click here to learn more about our no-risk cryptocurrency that enables instant payments to anyone in the world.”
  • “New ICO! Buy tokens at a 15% discount NOW!”
  • “Use your retirement funds to buy Bitcoin.”

Google and Facebook dominate Internet advertising. Practically all the growth in Internet ad spending goes to these two companies. So this will have an impact.

This doesn’t mean that you will be deprived of the pleasure of seeing crypto-related ads. Far from it. This being the Internet, no one gets to shut anything down entirely, not even Google and Facebook combined. There are thousands of automated ad exchanges beyond Google’s Adsense. There are many other advertising platforms beyond Facebook. There are other search sites than Google. And crypto-related ads will keep percolating throughout the Internet, and we will continue to be amused by them.

But Google and Facebook are so large and control such a massive share of the Internet advertising market that crypto promoters will feel marginalized as they’re losing the biggest avenues for promoting their latest thing. And this didn’t sit well with crypto gamblers today. Here are the five largest by market cap:

  • Bitcoin dropped 9% in 24 hours to $8,355; down 58% from its peak.
  • Ethereum dropped 10% in 24 hours to $621; down 55% from the peak.
  • Ripple dropped 9% in 24 hours to $0.71; down 81% from the peak.
  • Bitcoin Cash dropped 10% in 24 hours to $962; down 77% from its peak.
  • Litecoin dropped 7% in 24 hours to $163; down 56% from its peak.

Cryptos, a form of unregulated online gambling, makes gamblers money as long as they on average continue to buy and as long as they’re out there hyping their gambling tokens – from Facebook and chat rooms to Thanksgiving dinner – to lure new gamblers and their money into the game. That’s how prices are pushed up.

But once gamblers realize that the game is over, the game itself heads down on a volatile and slow path toward irrelevance. And this is starting to happen under an ever broadening crackdown that makes promos, manipulations, and outright fraud just a little harder and riskier to pull off.

This comes after a federal judge confirmed for the first time that cryptos are subject to the same laws about price manipulation as commodities, and that violators can be pursued on the basis of criminal laws. Here’s what that first crypto ruling by a federal judge means, explained by a one of the largest law firms in the US. Read…  Cryptocurrency Manipulators Can Now Go to Jail

Enjoy reading WOLF STREET and want to support it? You can donate. I appreciate it immensely. Click on the beer and iced-tea mug to find out how:

Would you like to be notified via email when WOLF STREET publishes a new article? Sign up here.

  56 comments for “Google Joins Facebook in Crypto Crackdown

  1. interesting says:

    Bit-tards always quote the value of their …..what ever you wanna call it… $$$$$….in other words, real money.

    • B Fast says:

      Funny. “Real money” is nothing more than a personal check from Uncle Sam. Don’t let anyone know that our rich uncle has nearly $21,000,000,000,000.00 in debt.

      • RangerOne says:

        American money is 100% real and valuable simply because we all agree it’s valuable and all have so for a very long time. If you do not agree please feel free to send us all some if your “Monopoly” money.

        A handful of cryptos currently have real value. But much of the value is tied to pure speculation. The volitility may be enough to kill all or most of them in the long run. Even if blockchain in some form is the future.

    • cdr says:

      Nice catch.

      Also, I never use Facebook and Google only a little. I could not care less about crypto and never look it up.

      What I noticed is that my ad blockers, which are associated with my router and several ad-oriented block lists – still catch hundreds of ads every few minutes using one or two computers to browse leisurely and read a lot along the way.

      Thus, crypto ads are an insignificant part of internet advertising overall. Just perhaps the cutting edge of obvious fraud that became too big to ignore a little. Actually, I’ve never seen one.

      • cdr says:

        OTOH, I have seen Google subtly censor responses to politically oriented search requests of mine. I am also deeply offended at the way major internet companies seem proud of their efforts to mediate the perfectly legal interests of everyday users towards their preferred interests. I would assume others feel the same and these internet companies will notice this in a bad way after the blush of current events fades.

  2. J Bank says:

    This is good for Bitcoin.

  3. Robert says:



    Sort of like that pornography thing said by some Supreme Court Justice 7 decades ago, “I cannot tell you exactly what it is, BUT I KNOW IT WHEN I SEE IT !”

    BUT WHERE IS THE BOUNDARY between blatant fraud, and regular USA marketing and advertising: “Reduces the look of wrinkles.” or “Softens your hands while you do the dishes.” or “Helps reduce the appearance of age spots.”

    This is a laudable goal and I support it.

    But since there is no brightly demarcated boundary, what then, shall we ban all advertising? Military recruiting too?

  4. Nick Kelly says:

    There was an ad for a new crypto on this site either yesterday or day before. I wonder if it will be affected.
    (I realize WR has nothing to do with ads)

    • Wolf Richter says:

      You’ll probably see these ads until June.

      I’m split about this. I agree that advertising scams and fraud should be stopped. But there is a side of me that really doesn’t like what Google and Facebook are doing with this and other issues: They just DECIDE! Since they’re so huge, these decisions can crush businesses and stifle creativity simply because they cut off the money flow. And they’re starting to throw their weight around a lot these days. As publisher, I get to see some of the behind-the-scenes stuff. There are scary aspects to this. They can force me — and they have already forced me — to pull content by threatening that they will cut off advertising revenues.

      • ocop says:

        Thats concerning. What sort of content and how do they go about identifying it?

      • Silly Me says:

        This is a sliding scale: revenues taken out first, and later trumped-up charges can ensue. The TBTF corporations (oh, well, it’s the banks that run the show) equal the oligarchy and power is now centralized to the point that it has passed the point of no return. You can easily guess what’s awaiting on the other side.

      • Prairies says:

        This is a good reason why net neutrality should be strengthened and not removed. I don’t like the bit scams but I also never clicked on any ads, it is that simple.

        Facebook, Amazon, Youtube. All are big enough to control content, can’t use any tech without agreeing to terms of service. Like you can say no and keep using your phone.

      • RangerOne says:

        It’s true the amount of power they wield would be frightening even if held by a government. And a government is supposed to be a slightly preferred arbiter because in theory they are elected and represent the people not private interests.

        All the same I believe in efforts to protect average people from crooks. But it’s always a fine line that needs to be tested and argued about.

      • cdr says:

        To the good, if you take the long view, Google may be big but their size creates a vulnerability. A successful campaign to boycott them due to egregious practices would be effective if fly over America got involved. This, of course, will not happen soon but is their Achilles Heel. Same with Facebook, but slightly more likely to occur. Their link to the deep state is the crack in their dam.

  5. NTesla says:

    Sorry Wolf Have To Say Again. You’re Totally Wrong About Crypto. It’s Going To Revolutionise The Whole Financial System. The Money In Crypto Is Largely Instititutional And Central Bank Derived. This Has Been Wirhdrawn Along With Media Scripting Such As This. I Mean Google Ads Do Not Result In Crypto Investments Unless You Are Talking About Something Like Bitconnect Which Was Indeed Something That Google Shouldn’t Have Advertised.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      You have no idea how funny this sounds to me – as in: you have the greatest sense of humor ever!

      • Cameron S says:

        Yes funny guy that one.

        What the world really needs right now is a unit of currency that is worth X one day and around 60 days later will only buy you 40% of X in USD terms or in terms of a barrel of oil or whatever other hard commodity you choose to value it against. Then who knows what it will buy you in another 10 days or in a month or even tomorrow.

        Really “revolutionary” that. What a genius set up for a currency.

        But as usual the pigs rushed in and most of them got slaughtered on the downside by the smart money as they always do.

        When asked on an RT interview in NOV 2017 about buying Bitcoin, the CEO of Bitcoin Cash said, and I quote exactly…

        ” This is a very high volatile instrument.
        This is a really risky investment…………
        … and if you are asking me whether some body should invest, then the answer is nobody should ever invest than being capable of losing every single last cent of it.”

        If you doubt that, the video of his RT interview is still up on YouTube.

        • Winston says:

          “Really ‘revolutionary’ that. What a genius set up for a currency. But as usual the pigs rushed in and most of them got slaughtered on the downside by the smart money as they always do.”

          The first two sentences, meant to be sarcastic, contradict the third. The setup IS genius for anyone who starts their own cryptocurrency which is why there are 1657 of them and counting as of today:

          Start a cryptocurrency, mine a whole bunch of “coins” while it’s incredibly easy to do so, then sell your DIY “tulip bulbs” to fools who sell them to greater fools and so forth. When the “value” of your “scamcoins” we’ll call them reaches a level you’re satisfied with, cash many of them out for something real. You as the market whale will thereby lower the asking price for your scamcoins. Then count on fools to buy the dip. Rinse, repeat. Brilliant. Totally unethical, but brilliant.

  6. Peter says:

    I like this comment:
    “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,…”
    So does this mean that all adverts for banks and insurance companies will be banned? Of course not. What it means is they won’t allow anything that might disrupt or upset the nice monopoly the banks have in controlling our lives. None of those nasty newcomers allowed into our club. Might take some of our profits away!
    Whilst I fully support the ban on fraudulent adverts and the like, it seems to be that the biggest scammers and frauds out there, multinational banks, will be immune to the ban. Apparently they never lie, cheat or deceive us then! Way to go Google and Facebook.

    • polecat says:

      I say nationalize ALL the TBTF banks … along with Google and facebook. DeFANG them, before they totally destroy society !

  7. alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit says:

    “Cryptos, a form of unregulated online gambling, makes gamblers money as long as they on average continue to buy and as long as they’re out there hyping their gambling tokens – from Facebook and chat rooms to Thanksgiving dinner – to lure new gamblers and their money into the game. That’s how prices are pushed up.”

    Time to pull in the Ponzi, guys!

  8. Laughing Eagle says:

    The Fed is planning on tightening, so must make sure we alert those to keep all the liquidity in the “legal house” game.

  9. Znayko says:

    Bitcoin will survive, but facebook and google may die and will not exist anymore.

  10. mean chicken says:

    Google & FB controlling the narrative, substituting family values for inappropriate, objectionable and misleading material.

    • Frederick says:

      Exactly Their “Unilad” is constantly pushing alcohol and perversion of all sorts It’s totally out of control now It’s a subtle or not so subtle mind control no doubt about it

  11. Chris says:

    Like most people, I haven’t used a search engine other than Google for many years. Then recently, just out of interest, I dug around for some alternative search engines. They are not easy to find but there are a few good ones. And it’s surprising what a different view of the world you get from them. Try a few searches on even slightly controversial topics. You’ll be amazed at the difference. Maybe Google has good intentions, but “The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools”.

    • Setarcos says:

      When your company motto was “Don’t Be Evil” …you just might be.

    • As a part of running one of my websites, I have analyzed the google news feed over the last few months, and it is skewed to the left. I have continued to use it, but I filter out of all the duplicate content they relay from CNN, Politico, Buzzfeed etc…

    • Tom T says:

      would you mind commenting on the results of your alternate search engine research. I would be appreciative. Thanking you in advance for your time.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        This produces reasonable search results:

        Also they claim that they don’t track you. Not sure if I believe this claim entirely.

        • Tom T says:

          Thank you, Sir.

        • Robert says:

          Thanks from me too, Wolf !

          My partner and I have been dismayed that when I search for (and often buy) ¨XYZ”,
          for forever later she see ads for XYZ on her sidebars. We are separate creatures with separate G00GLE identities. But because we often use each other´s laptops, we are irreversibly connected in the warped mind of G00GLE. And BTW, once I buy an ¨XYZ¨, I usually NEVER BUY it again. So the damnable repeat ads are wasted on me, and ever more so wasted on my partner. What a waste.

          We are using DUCK now and looking for improved privacy. We´ll see what we´ll see.

          Thanks again Wolf !

        • WT Frogg says:

 my preferred search engine with Duck running a close second.

        • Robert says:

          Reply to WT Frogg regarding StartPage

          I will try StartPage alternately with DuckDuck.

          I fired StartPage right up while I was reading your comment, and saw the search bar with precisely this at the end:

          /enhanced by Google/ and that is concerning.

          Remember when Sergei what´s his name said that Google would not be an Evil Company (from memory)?

          Well then, Google has now become the quintessentially Evil Company, and I abhor them as much as is humanly possible. Just as much as I abhor FB !

          Perhaps all very large organizations tend towards Evil as they evolve, because they have so much more to protect?

          As I said, ¨enhanced by Google¨ is very concerning to me.

      • RagnarD says:

        Oh boy,
        Check out American Inventors under DuckDuckGo image search…

        Got another recco, Wolf??

        • Prairies says:

          If you don’t want African American Inventors you have to change your wording, not your search engine.

          Use “Inventors from USA” if seeing African American Inventors offends you.

          It’s a search engine, the wording you put in is what it generates first.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Google the same term and you get similar results (except there appears to be more duplication on duckduckgo). The reason is that the key words “american inventors” are part of the key words “African American Inventors” which is in the name of some websites and books that rank high on the search results.

        • Robert says:

          REPLY TO PRAIRIES AND WOLF regarding the ¨American Inventors¨ wording.

          I worked on SQL queries in large health insurance companies for years. We taught Jr. SQL writers to organize the terms in their queries so the Query would not scan all insureds — when looking for some small condition. Parsing the entire insured list bogged down the engine. Hence KEYWORDS.

          Inventor is a VALID SEARCH Term. And American is a valid additional filter. As is Russian, Brazilian, Indian and Chinese.

          The suggestion that since ´African American Inventors´ can be used — people need to modify an exquisitely CORRECT search phrase to some rather un-obvious search phrase falls apart when you think about the valid search term ¨Russian Inventors¨

          The problem here is Google and not those who search sensibly.

        • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit says:

          Wow. I, too, searched Google for “American inventors”. Edison’s up there, but lots of black/obscure inventors.

          I’m trying to be offended but it’s not working. If I’m a HS kid looking for an inventor to write a paper about, does my teacher really want to read yet another paper on Edison? This is more interesting than the usual line-up of Edison, Farnsworth, etc. that everyone knows about already.

  12. 728huey says:

    So Facebook is going all out to ban cryptocurrency ads but still allows fake news to be published. Makes you wonder where their bread is being buttered.

    • Actually I believe that pushing Bitcoin was part of the Russian campaign to bring the IMPERIALIST powers to their knees, and destroying Bitcoin may be the second part of the plan.

  13. If google wants to ban Crypto ads , it’s their choice. But publishers like me are going to have to find another source for ads. For it no longer makes sense to use google adsense for my Crypto digest.

  14. MCH says:

    Oh no, are we going to have to relive the 90s again substituting google and Facebook for Microsoft. They are far more insidious than Bill Gates was IMO. Never trust any organization with a motto don’t be evil.

  15. Lots says:

    June seems so far away must be making them some decent money and perhaps this means we can anticipate even more ads “while the gettin’ is good” .
    Wolf always catches these news tidbits early !

  16. Silly Me says:

    My impression is – and I can be completely wrong – that crypto was created and is manipulated in order to make some money disappear so that fiat money can be printed without the threat of its losing value. Ultimately, it’s a gamble for the outsider player, but great risks offer great payouts. As for affecting inflation, the scam must grow by several orders of magnitude, but hey, it’s a start!

  17. If you do a bit or reading you understand that Bitcoin is a serious technology, and is being developed with the support of government and institutions (hence SEC regs) I expect that someday (soon) the stock market will come under the rules of the commodity exchange, being a source of fraud corruption and based on a ponzi scheme which government first tolerates, then embraces. Bitcoin is real, the stock market isn’t.

  18. WT Frogg says:

    @ Robert : On the Startpage where it says “Enhanced by Google” click on the box and see what they scrub out . Read how they do it. Lots of info
    ” under the hood ” so to speak. I have been using it for years in conjunction with Firefox browser. Enjoy !

    Check out their StartMail and Protonmail for secure email services compared to Gmail, Outlook , etc. which are notoriously bad for security.

    • Robert says:

      Thanks !

      Reading what they scrub out /now/ is THE definitive phrase, however.

      What will /now/ mean next Tuesday or a year after that?

      I have learned to never trust google, and I am certain that is a good place for me to stay. Google is, in fact, an Evil company. Goethe´s Faust aside, I am quite certain that Google is beyond redemption.

  19. raxadian says:

    Freaking finally! It was this or waiting like five yewrs for laws against crypto to exist in several countries.

    Honesty when is used as malware that literally can melt your smart phone, it needs to die.

Comments are closed.