Facebook’s Instagram Blocks Promotion of IPO Edge Article on Vox Utility Token Offering
When it comes to cryptocurrency, Facebook appears to believe that ignorance is bliss.
Last week, IPO Edge published an analysis of an upcoming offering of security tokens designed to fund the growth of an existing Internet telephone and messaging app called Talketh. The article, which was written objectively to educate readers without payment from the token issuer, explained some of the features of Vox Utility Tokens that make them more attractive than many highly-speculative cryptocurrencies. The article also highlighted key risks, such as potentially-poor sales of Talketh phone credits in emerging markets.
To spread awareness of the article, IPO Edge posted an image on Instagram, a unit of Facebook, showing a photo and headline from the article. Additionally, IPO Edge purchased a “promotion” of the post to reach those interested in cryptocurrencies.
However, Instagram rejected the promotion. “We’ve taken a look into this and the ad does violate our ads policies,” Stephanie Noon, Instagram Brand Communications Manager Stephanie Noon wrote in an email to IPO Edge. The bottom line: Instagram reviews ads related to cryptocurrencies and gives permission to those it deems eligible. After IPO Edge provided detailed information about its website, intent, and approach to journalism, Facebook still denied the promotion. IPO Edge also completed a generic “application” on the Facebook website following the rejection but remains denied.
Twitter, meanwhile, accepted a promotion for a Tweet with an identical image:
The censorship policy comes as Facebook is under fire for a range of issues from potential complicity in election rigging to theft of personal information in the Cambridge Analytica scandal to selling ads to Russians. With regard to cryptocurrency, Facebook initially banned virtually all promotions in January and in June began to allow some at its discretion.
Civil rights attorneys interviewed by IPO Edge said that Facebook is essentially selling ads just like a print newspaper publisher and can reject whatever it likes. They say that even if someone bought a fraudulent cryptocurrency after seeing a Facebook ad, it’s unlikely the social-media company would face civil or criminal liability. At the heart of Facebook’s policy is probably a desire to avoid further scandals or pay legal bills to cope with lawsuits.
“Facebook is being called to carpet for so many things being asked ‘what are you doing to stop this?’” says David Holland, a New York based litigation attorney who concentrates on civil rights issues. “Rather than decide which ads are appropriate, it’s easier to just block them all.”
The Vox offering has safeguards built in to protect amateur investors. As an offering under 506(c), only accredited investors can purchase the tokens, meaning they must meet certain requirements such as having a net worth of $1,000,000 or annual income of $200,000.
Facebook has a much looser stance when it comes to ads for traditional investments and fund managers. For example, Alumni Ventures Group runs Instagram ads pitching venture capital investment funds to graduates of universities such as Princeton, Yale, and Harvard. Some Instagram users who attended those schools see ads such as the one below.
Unlike the Instagram post from IPO Edge, such posts are deliberate attempts to raise money and earn fees. Alumni Ventures Group did not reply to a request for comment from IPO Edge.
As IPO Edge explained in its launch announcement, the site aims to sort good investments from bad. Indeed, IPO Edge’s coverage of Longfin, once a hot cryptocurrency play, has been highly critical. The first article highlighted Longfin’s weak balance sheet while another pointed out that a temporary share-price increase was the result of a technical short squeeze rather than strength in the fundamental business. Shares of Longfin have fallen to about $2 per share, down from a peak of $142.
John Jannarone, Editor-in-Chief