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Google Bans Bitcoin Advertisements in Policy Change

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SAN FRANCISCO — Google is joining Facebook in banning advertising for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Google, the largest provider of digital advertising on the internet, announced on Tuesday that it plans to change its advertising policy for certain financial services, including cryptocurrencies, starting in June. The new restriction would apply to both space on Google’s platforms, like YouTube, and to third-party websites where Google sells advertising space.

The company’s decision comes after Facebook announced in January that it would ban all ads for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in order to stop misleading and deceptive promotions. Together, Google and Facebook account for the majority of advertising on the internet in terms of revenue.

The short announcement on Google’s advertising policies page did not specify why Google planned to turn away that advertising. The company said the ban also applied to content related to cryptocurrencies “including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets and cryptocurrency trading advice.”

The frenzy around Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has raised concerns about scammers using online advertisements to recruit potential marks enticed by the surge in prices for most virtual currencies. Advertising for new virtual currencies exploded late last year when prices jumped.

Some of that activity drew skepticism from regulators. Many start-ups sold their own custom virtual currencies in so-called initial coin offerings, which became a popular way to raise money to fund new software projects. Online advertising was a popular way to market the coins to new customers.

In recent months, American regulators have made it clear that many of the coin offerings were most likely illegal. That has pushed down the prices of most virtual currencies and dampened the market for the ads.

The restrictions on cryptocurrency advertising are similar to limits Google places on other forms of ads, including the promotion of counterfeit items or sexually explicit content.

Follow Daisuke Wakabayashi on Twitter: @daiwaka.

Nathaniel Popper contributed reporting.

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