- Facebook has announced a new policy that prohibits ads that promote “financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive” practices, including binary options, cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings, according to a Facebook Business blog post written by Rob Leathern, the company’s product management director.
- The social network is intentionally keeping the policy broad, so that deceptive and misleading ads can be better detected, and enforcement can be better applied across Facebook, Audience Network and Instagram, Leathern said. The company plans to revisit the policy and its enforcement as the cryptocurrency market progresses.
- “We also understand that we may not catch every ad that should be removed under this new policy, and encourage our community to report content that violates our Advertising Policies,” Leathern wrote in the post. Users can click on the upper right-hand corner of an ad to report it.
Facebook’s revised advertising policy is part of the social network’s commitment to improving security and integrity of all content. Its recent News Feed changes are prioritizing local news and content that users choose to see. Producers of fake news and misleading content and other scammers are now being targeted, as Facebook strives to make the platform more community focused and safe for marketers.
Building trust with users and focusing on people first are part of Facebook’s central advertising policies. Users should be able to learn about new products and services without having to worry about being scammed. In his blog post, Leathern recognizes that there are several companies that advertise the now-banned products that operate in good faith, but increased incidences of “cryptojacking,” or instances of fraudulent cryptocurrency mining, have likely prompted the ban.
Last week, malware infected Google DoubleClick ads on YouTube that delivered ads to users containing cryptocurrency mining software. Cybersecurity company Trend Micro detected the incident after five malicious domains saw increased traffic and reported it on its TrendLabs Security Intelligence blog. Cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, have increased in value recently, which has intensified the cryptojacking problem.
Using ads to mine cryptocurrency is a new method for committing ad fraud. Google has been monitoring the problem and taking steps to ensure that its platforms are safe for users and advertisers. Late last year, Google started blocking ad purchases of unauthorized inventory identified by ads.txt, driving up the costs of ads on Google’s platforms but also reducing fraud. The marketing industry as a whole is working to tackle ad fraud. The Trustworthy Accountability Group has announced that it will require publishers to adopt the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s ads.txt tool to block fraudulent programmatic impressions.
Now, Facebook is taking action on cryptojacking. Banning the ads outright may seem like an extreme measure, but the social network’s plans to keep the policy vague signals that it is continuing to review the problem as it works to improve the platform’s security and remain agile to the evolution of fraud.