It hasn't been a great year so far for Facebook, the social media giant that was once the most popular online platform among America's youth.
While roughly half of teens in the U.S. still use Facebook, according to a survey published by the Pew Research Center this year, the company hasn't been receiving much love recently in light of ongoing controversy about data collection and privacy.
Indeed, though it was the publicly stated goal of CEO Mark Zuckerberg to meet the issues surrounding user privacy and data collection head-on and make 2018 "a serious year of self-improvement," one that would restore faith in the promise that "technology would be a decentralizing force," both the company and its CEO seem stuck in a persisting cloud of scandal.
Which is why when Facebook recently announced a change in their advertising policy that would effectively lift a ban imposed back in January over cryptocurrency-related products and services, some social media observers were quick to interpret this change of heart as a financially motivated act.
However, in the eyes of one Reddit user who works in online advertising, Facebook's decision is nothing out of the ordinary.
In fact, it is "totally normal behavior from any major ad platform. Something new comes up, it all gets shut down, and after some more exploration: ad platform allows people back in," they wrote.
And looking back on the original announcement published on January 30 by Rob Leathern, Facebook's product management director, Facebook isn't exactly doing a 180-degree turn by updating their policies.
The big picture
The point of the ban at its outset in January was to prohibit 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."
Binary options, often called all-or-nothing options, as well as initial coin offerings (ICOs), are still forbidden from being advertised on the company's platform.
Moreover, for the part of the ban that has been lifted, namely on cryptocurrency products and services, a separate application process will screen interested parties and assess eligibility for advertising on Facebook based on "licenses they have obtained, whether they are traded on a public stock exchange, and other relevant public background on their business."
Leathern emphasized in the post announcing the partial lifting of the crypto ban that, given the application process, "not everyone who wants to advertise will be able to do so."
Facebook's cautious approach is one that has been echoed by other major sites, such as Twitter and Google, among others, who continue to prohibit the advertisements of cryptocurrency-related products and services.
Yet, even the partial change of heart by Facebook on this matter has been taken by certain crypto enthusiasts as a sure sign of the growing popularity of the industry that will soon win over other major players.
Rumour has it
As might be expected, Tuesday's announcement got the speculation wheel spinning as well.
Specifically, Facebook's ad policy change was seen as a signal regarding its own plans around blockchain, sparking renewed conversation about a suspected in-house cryptocurrency or token.
The rumor first began shortly after David Marcus, the company's vice president for its Messenger app division and former president of PayPal, said in a Facebook post he would be "setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch."
Three days later on May 11, Cheddar published an article titled "Facebook Plans to Create Its Own Cryptocurrency" claiming that the company would explore "the creation of its own cryptocurrency" as confirmed by people "familiar" with the company's plans.
In addition, other rumors circulating the web have posited that Facebook has plans to buy Coinbase, the largest U.S. based cryptocurrency change by trade volume, in which Marcus sits as a member in their board of directors.
Nevertheless, these rumors remain – just that – rumors.
And ever since the creation of Facebook's blockchain research team in May, there has yet to be any official statements outlining what, exactly, they are working on.
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