A growing number of internet companies are banning cryptocurrency advertising, fearing reputational damage if their users are duped or left penniless, even as regulators struggle to get to grips with the fast-emerging industry.
Twitter on Tuesday began blocking crypto ads, becoming the latest internet giant to crack down after moves by Alphabet’s Google and Facebook earlier this year .
Once restricted to small online chatrooms for early bitcoin backers, cryptocurrencies have since exploded in popularity and the industry has grown rapidly.
While regulators have stepped up their warnings about the risks to consumers of investing in cryptocurrencies and the potential for scams, in most jurisdictions they are only beginning to discuss publicly how they might regulate the industry, let alone frame advertising rules.
Last week, the G20 group of nations failed to agree on specific regulatory action.
So companies are taking matters into their own hands.
Snapchat in February started removing adverts for ICOs – which regulators say lack transparency and are susceptible to fraud – a spokesperson told Reuters.
The company declined to comment on whether it would widen the ban to include individual cryptocurrencies, crypto-wallets and unregistered exchanges, as other technology giants have done.
LinkedIn is blocking crypto-related ads, a spokesman said, although owner Microsoft does allow adverts on its other platforms.
Across Asia, where the crypto frenzy is at its most feverish, firms are also restricting advertising.
China outlawed cryptocurrency exchanges and ICOs last year. Chinese internet titans Baidu, Tencent, and Weibo followed suit by curbing ads shortly after.
Russian search site Yandex said it had not carried crypto ads for ‘a long time’.
While online companies are prohibiting ads, there is less evidence that traditional advertising routes are under threat.
London’s metro system is plastered with advertising promoting crypto-trading. Transport for London did not respond to requests for comment about its policy on advertising.
The slump in virtual currency prices this year has not rattled British punters lured in by adverts, however: A spokesman for Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority said it had to date received fewer than 10 complaints about crypto ads.