Facebook recently announced that it will now consider ads for cryptocurrency-related projects (though advertisements for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) will continue to be prohibited).

According to Facebook the change is intended to “continue to help prevent or remove misleading advertising for these products and services”.

The move follows Facebook’s outright ban on all cryptocurrency-related advertisements in January. Google then followed Facebook’s lead with a ban of their own on crypto and ICO ads in March.

Facebook Ads

These two moves left legitimate cryptocurrency-related businesses and media entities few options to promote products and content to the general public.

Twitter has remained a haven for #crypto-related content and discussion, but it too has enforced stricter policies since March around advertising for the industry.  Twitter’s current policy, like Facebook, also prohibits ads related to ICOs but goes further to limit other crypto related ads to those by “public companies listed on certain major stock markets.” This despite, its founder Jack Dorsey believing that bitcoin will be the “single currency” of the internet.

Perhaps when considering the latest Facebook crypto ads policy, Mark Zuckerberg saw the following chart and realized that prioritizing crypto revenue over reputational risk was one way to catch up.

Facebook and Twitter Stock Performance Year to Date

Facebook and Twitter Stock Perfomance Year to Date

Source Data: Yahoo Finance

Even though cryptocurrencies have had a very rough start to the year, it’s clear that there’s still a lot of interest in the space.

Big players like Microsoft have supported crypto ads and payments for some time, and major money is moving in. With players like Fidelity setting up crypto businesses and large VC firms like Andreessen Horowitz launching crypto-focused funds, there will be plenty of mass market offerings to advertise on the biggest social platform in the world.

Another interesting piece to the puzzle, which may have been related to the change in Facebook crypto ads policy, is that they’ve created a new team to look at integrating blockchain tech into the company. If that new blockchain project eventually turned into a form of cryptocurrency (FaceCoin is already taken) then the company would surely want to advertise the product.

Even for a company who has betrayed its users in the past, promoting its own crypto while preventing others from advertising would be particularly two-faced.

Facebook in general has been taking a cautious approach as it continues to face increased scrutiny from regulators for privacy concerns as well as the ongoing battle against ‘fake news’.

Continuing the ban on ICO-related advertisements in light of the recent comments from the SEC on how those could be classified as securities is likely another way that Facebook is attempting to stay out of the regulatory crosshairs. But of course they still need to make money and stay relevant in topics that matter to its audience.