Facebook’s ban on cryptocurrency adverts has added fuel to rumurs that the social network may take a foray into the world of digital coins. Facebook said its new policy, which prohibits adverts that relate to cryptocurrencies or initial coin offerings (ICOs) from the 2bn-user social network, is because they are “frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices”.
On the surface it appears to be a worthy purge, particularly after Facebook’s history with Russian propaganda, but it has raised eyebrows among the technology community, mostly because it was only four weeks ago that Mark Zuckerberg revealed that he was studying cryptocurrencies and how to “best use them in our services”.
Zuckerberg published a Facebook post Thursday in which he outlined his personal goal for 2018. The main goal is, essentially, to fix the problems within Facebook that have caused controversy. “We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools,” Zuckerberg wrote. “If we’re successful this year then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory.”
But further on in his post, Zuckerberg outlined two areas of technology that he wanted to research in 2018: encryption and cryptocurrencies. He said both technologies led to decentralised power, which Zuckerberg saw as a positive move.
Zuckerberg wasn’t explicit in his post about Facebook’s plans regarding cryptocurrencies. He didn’t say the company would add bitcoin as a payment option, for example. But it shows that one of the world’s most powerful companies is looking closely at the technology.
Here’s the portion of Zuckerberg’s post about cryptocurrencies:
“But today, many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.
“There are important counter-trends to this — like encryption and cryptocurrency — that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands. But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.”