If you’re a cryptocurrency enthusiast or a serious investor, you might have guessed the answer by now.
The following timeline of events seems evident that Facebook, Twitter, and Google are following the path China is currently leading. Never mind that China is a socialist one-party state that is under the leadership of the Communist Party, while Facebook, Twitter, and Google are American companies that specialize in social networking and technology. Don’t let the disparity fool you. They have a lot more things in common than you think.
It was reported that China’s ban on Initial Coin Offerings was highly likely done at the same time when cryptocurrency ads were censored. The People’s Bank of China banned ICOs on September 2017 and similarly blocked anyone from having access to websites that provided cryptocurrency trading services as well as initial coin offerings. Ads which were in any way related to digital currencies or Bitcoin was also erased from China’s search engines and all of the country’s social media.
China also demanded the stoppage of local exchanges’ trading of cryptocurrencies. It also issued proposals with the intent to halt the mining of bitcoin. It also made efforts to stop Chinese companies abroad from evading China’s domestic ban on ICOs. Online platform as well as mobile apps that provided exchange services for digital currencies were also blocked. These actions were all made possible due to the united efforts of China’s central bank, agencies, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the country’s cyberspace administration.
As if taking a cue from China, Facebook issued their advertising policy on January 30 stating that cryptocurrency-related ads are to be banned, including binary options and initial coin offerings. According to the Product Management Director of Facebook, Rob Leathern, their intent is to make Facebook free from scams. It also wants to drive away unscrupulous individuals who have plans to manipulate users. However, Leathern admitted that Facebook is still streamlining its detection techniques to better identify illicit ads. Essentially, Leathern states that they want to make it more difficult for scammers to profit from Facebook.
Taking a cue from Facebook, Google similarly released its advertising policies detailing the ban it will apply starting June 2018. According to the policy, advertisements related to cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings, and crypto-related trading advice will be prohibited from the search engine. The policy also includes legitimate crypto companies. Their reason for the ban is similar to Facebook’s reason: Google wants to protect consumers from harmful crypto scams.
Taking a cue from Facebook and Google, Twitter similarly issued a policy prohibiting ICO ads and token sales globally. According to a Twitter spokesperson, the move was done in order to ensure the “safety of the Twitter community”.
Is Facebook, Google, and Twitter really looking after us or is it merely looking after itself? Will they similarly follow what China is setting out to do?
One coin to rule them all
Reports indicate the China is currently making efforts to launch a government-controlled cryptocurrency. The country is said to be aiming to standardize blockchain technology eventually creating only one digital currency as the “real digital currency” to be issued by the central bank. According to Zhang Yifeng, the leader of China’s central bank’s science and technology who is similarly in charge of the newly established Banknote Blockchain Technology Institute, bitcoin or Ethereum should neither be considered as digital currencies. He added that ICO-issued coins are “ridiculous”. So far, there is no definite timetable set for the launch of China’s “legal digital currency”. However, universities and research institutes are currently being tapped to research cryptography algorithms, and zero-knowledge proofs.
Google is not far behind in creating its own blockchain-related technology. A report released by Bloomberg claims that the search engine company is working on its own distributed digital ledger and that Google’s staff is busy streamlining the process of blockchain protocols.
Facebook is seemingly following suit after its founder Mark Zuckerberg hinted his interest in delving deeper into “important countertrends..like encryption or cryptocurrency.” In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg acknowledged the underlying power cryptocurrencies have of “tak(ing) power from centralized systems and put(ting) it back into people’s hands..” Yet he also admits that such power comes with the risk of it “being harder to control.”
Is Zuckerberg’s fear of cryptocurrencies’ power, and the possibility that people will take that power into their own hands, prompted him to make his own digital currency? Is this Facebook’s way to still hold control over this seemingly ‘uncontrollable’ technology? Zuckerberg explains, “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.”
So far, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey have yet to announce or express interest in creating its own cryptocurrency. Dorsey publicly acknowledged Bitcoin as the would-be single currency that is set to rule the world. Dorsey stated, “The world ultimately will have a single currency. The internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be bitcoin.” How long this sentiment will last, only time can tell.