Twitter is the latest social network to ban ICO and cryptocurrency ads

27 Mar 2018

Image: Grindi/Shutterstock

Twitter is the latest internet firm to take steps to avoid any role in financial crime investigations that likely will come from cryptocurrency fever when investors get burned.

Twitter will start banning cryptocurrency and initial coin offering (ICO) advertising, following in the footsteps of Facebook and Google in recent months.

The clampdown by the internet giants is to avoid giving publicity to potential fraud or large investor losses. The expected move will affect advertising around bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum.

Future Human

Two weeks ago, Google said that it will ban cryptocurrency-related content from its AdWords platform from June. This followed a similar move by Facebook in January to ban all ads for bitcoin in a bid to prevent misleading promotions.

Twitter’s new policy will be rolled out over the next 30 days and will ban ads from cryptocurrency exchanges and cryptocurrency wallet services.

The ban won’t affect public companies listed on certain stock markets. In Japan, the ban will be limited to crypto exchanges regulated by that country’s national financial regulator.

The increasing number of ICOs is causing concern that many investors could fall prey to scams or lose their shirts in what is an increasingly volatile market.

In 2017, $5.6bn was raised through ICOs, but there are also concerns that scammers are using online ads to find victims willing to part with their cash for what may be revealed as the Dutch tulip auctions of our age.

As time marches on, the inevitability of practitioners of cryptocurrencies and dodgy ICOs being indicted for financial crimes is something that the internet giants have no desire to be a part of.

Coin-mining gold rush

As well as scammers, hackers are also coining in.

Last week, internet security giant Symantec warned that in the past year, an astronomical rise in cryptocurrency values triggered a cryptojacking gold rush, with cyber-criminals attempting to cash in on a volatile market.

Detections of coin miners on endpoint computers worldwide increased by 8,500pc in 2017. In the UK alone, it was up a staggering 44,000pc.

With a low barrier of entry – only requiring a few lines of code to operate – cyber-criminals are harnessing stolen processing power and cloud CPU usage from consumers and enterprises to mine cryptocurrency.

Coin miners can slow devices, overheat batteries and, in some cases, render devices unusable. For enterprise organisations, coin miners can put corporate networks at risk of shutdown as well as inflate cloud CPU usage, adding cost.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years