Facebook recently announced a total ban on any and all advertisements related to cryptocurrency. The blanket ban includes countless established and legitimate crypto companies that can be vetted in the same way Facebook vets any other company out there. So why ban every crypto advertisement conceivable and not just pesky ICOs? Here’s Facebook’s reasoning:
“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception.”
Given Facebook’s massive scandal with consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which triggered an epic PR crisis and exodus from the platform, the above statement is a bit rich.
It’s tough to get a brief overview of Facebook’s brazen misuse of personal data that led to the #DeleteFacebook movement, but here’s a quick look at what went down.
Long story short, Cambridge Analytica created a Facebook quiz app that collected and sold data from users who took the quiz. This disturbing practice is status quo at Facebook, and marketers have been harvesting incredibly personal data using methods like this for years.
The Verge talked to Facebook ad strategist Susanne Yada about the practice.
“It was pretty common knowledge among people who understood the internet that if you were taking a quiz to find out what kind of cheese you are, somebody on the other end is very interested in getting that data. I wish I could say I was more surprised and more alarmed. I just assumed that if you take a quiz, someone would know who you are because you are signed into Facebook.”
Cambridge Analytica, which has been embroiled in allegations of misuse of personal and private data to aid Trump’s presidential campaign, also took advantage of a well-known loophole in Facebook’s API that Facebook allegedly knew about and permitted for years. It allowed businesses to gather data from not only a Facebook user who took the quiz, but also from Facebook friends of any user who took the quiz.
The Verge did some digging on this as well and found this loophole was also common knowledge to marketers. Longtime privacy consultant Mary Hodder told The Verge she knew about it for more than a decade.
“I knew 10 years ago that Facebook’s API allowed an entity to gather friend-data. But I wasn’t surprised that 95 percent of the population that didn’t understand this were shocked. They thought if Facebook was going to sell you out, it would just be you. They didn’t know you would take all your friends with you.”
And so it goes with cryptocurrencies – take one out and then knock them all.
The irony here is that blockchain developers are working to build a system of trust, a system where Facebook could never pull dirty tricks and abuse its users’ trust.
The primary challenge is conveying what cryptocurrencies are all about. They’re complex. What’s required is the ability to swap out black-and-white thinking for a more nuanced and responsible approach. An expansive array of companies and blockchain developers are touching every sector in every industry, from supply-chain logistics to remittances to the Internet of Things to viable alternative digital currencies to notary functions. They’re building the framework for a network of smart contracts to root out manipulation, discriminatory and predatory practices, and bad actors – like Cambridge Analytica, the pernicious and odorless company that danced the night away with Facebook.