As part of its long-running cryptocurrency clampdown, China is now censoring crypto-related advertisements on social media and search engines.
As per a report by the South China Morning Post, searches for terms such as “cryptocurrency”, “Bitcoin”, and “ICO” do not yield any sponsored posts or paid advertisements on Baidu (the largest Chinese search engine) or Weibo (a Chinese microblogging platform which is somewhat akin to Twitter).
In an emailed reply, Weibo confirmed to SCMP that they do not allow any advertisements related to cryptocurrencies, at present. Baidu, meanwhile, has yet to offer a statement on the matter and confirm whether they have indeed officially banned crypto-related ads.
This move is the latest following the Chinese government’s bans on cryptocurrency trading, initial coin offerings (ICOs), and the on-going process of guiding Bitcoin miners in the country towards an “orderly exit” from the business.
The SCMP report suggests that this censorship of crypto-related ads may be the case owing to the ban on ICOs, which was put into effect in September last year by the People’s Bank of China. The government’s key concern was that around 90% of ICOs were fraudulent, and being used to scam the masses.
In banning cryptocurrency-related advertisements, China joins social media giant Facebook, which recently banned all ads promoting cryptocurrencies and ICOs, claiming it did not want advertisers using the platform to market “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices”.
However, these bans on crypto advertising have largely been hailed as positive developments, as they may help protect unsuspecting investors who enter these speculative markets based on social media promotions and videos on Facebook and video-sharing websites.
A major case in point is Bitconnect – a long-suspected Ponzi scheme which offered unrealistic profits and lucrative referral deals to members who would bring in more sign-ups. Most of these promoters took to social media and video-sharing websites to attract more investors.
The Bitconnect platform was recently shut down and the company, along with several promoters, have been sued for fraud in Florida.