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FCA Warns Social Platforms Over Fraudulent Crypto Ads

The UK’s financial services watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will work with platforms to eliminate ads for risky financial products.

During the FCA’s annual meeting on Sept. 28, the watchdog group said that they are cracking down on dangerous ads. Specifically, those that have to do with financial services such as cryptocurrency. The FCA refers to them as “dodgy financial promotions,” that leave consumers vulnerable. 

FCA’s head of enforcement, Mark Steward, said these platforms are “on notice.”

However, he hinted at the FCA’s openness towards collaboration with platforms on the issue. “We expect them to be involved in this process of protecting the community.”

Cryptocurrency ads were a big topic of the meeting. The UK has been one of the fastest-growing crypto markets. As of this writing, they rank first in Europe with $170 billion in transactions over the last year. 

So far the only major site that could be considered a social media platform to change its terms and conditions for financial ads has been Google. The FCA praised this move while Steward criticized other companies for lagging behind.

After outright banning ads for crypto exchanges and wallets on Google Ads, the company slightly backtracked. Such ads are present on Google. However the difference is the companies behind them must register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) prior.

Nonetheless other financial ads remain forbidden such as loans and ICOs. All companies running crypto ads on Google must also follow all local and federal laws pertaining to cryptocurrency and continue to comply with Google’s terms and conditions. The change came after a long negotiation process with the FCA. 

Meanwhile, Twitter and Facebook have yet to commit to any changes despite the FCA’s pleas and offer to work together. Speaking with The Guardian, a spokesperson for Twitter said that “It is against our rules to use scam tactics on Twitter to obtain money or private financial information,” suggesting the issue has been handled. The spokesperson added that strong action occurs when these rules are violated. 

Facebook, which also owns Instagram, had a similar response when asked about the issue. A spokesperson said that “While no enforcement is perfect, we continue to invest in new technologies and methods to protect people on Facebook and Instagram from these scams.” 

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