Bitcoin ads disappear from social media in China after central bank bans cryptocurrency fundraising

February 1, 2018
Industry News
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Amanda Lee
amanda.lee@scmp.com

Growing popularity of ICOs raised concerns that organisers may prey on unwitting investors, with China and South Korea banning such fundraising 

China’s major social media networks and search engines don’t appear to return paid searches or advertisements on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies following a fundraising ban implemented last year by the country’s central bank. 

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) last September banned fundraising through digital currencies, labelling 90 per cent of the initial coin offerings (ICOs) launched in China as fraudulent. 

Searches for the Chinese terms for “bitcoin”, “cryptocurrency” and “ICO” returned news articles and links but no paid advertisements or obvious sponsored posts on China’s largest search engine Baidu and on Weibo, a Chinese-language microblog loosely modelled on Twitter.  

Weibo said in an emailed reply that it currently does not allow bitcoin and cryptocurrency-related advertising. Baidu did not immediately respond to questions whether it has banned bitcoin and cryptocurrency-related advertising. 

Facebook has just banned all ads that promote cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, to prevent advertisers from marketing “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices”. The move shines a spotlight on the US social media giant as part of a broader debate about the role of social media in disseminating news and the fine line between vetting and censorship.

Interest in bitcoin has skyrocketed after the value of the virtual currency surged more than 10 times over the past year. The growing popularity of ICOs, a relatively new method of fundraising in which digital tokens are issued to the public, has raised concerns that organisers may prey on unwitting investors, with China and South Korea banning such fundraising practices.  
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