According to Unverified Reports, Twitter Is Following Facebook and Google in Banning Crypto-Related Ads

Twitter may soon join Facebook and Google in cracking down on ads for cryptocurrency-related products, according to Sky News. The claims (not yet verified by Twitter) are that the social network will institute a worldwide ban against ads for initial coin offerings (ICOs), cryptocurrency wallets, and token sales within the next two weeks. It might also ban ads for cryptocurrency exchanges with “some limited exceptions.”

This isn’t the first step that Twitter has taken to stop deceptive cryptocurrency scams: the company is currently in the process of taking down accounts that demand small amounts of a cryptocurrency under the guise of “verified” celebrity Twitter accounts.

While the tip didn’t specify Twitter’s exact reasoning, it’s likely to be the same as Facebook and Google’s — recently the two companies both banned most crypto-related ad content.

In January Facebook reported that it would begin prohibiting ads that promote financial products and services which are “frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional activities.”

And just last week Google had similar announcements: A section on Google’s website related to advertising policies and financial services specified that the search giant’s ban would cover ads for “cryptocurrencies and related content — including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice.”

Good Thing? Bad Thing?

Could the ban be a good thing? According to Forbes, the top cryptocurrencies — Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin — are so well known that they don’t need advertising. Craig Cole from CryptoMaps told the news outlet: “While this isn’t the best news, it could be a good thing for cryptocurrency. The ban will help solidify the market and weed out scam coins and illegitimate actors looking to get rich quick, providing stability. This ban doesn’t mean that cryptocurrency is going away. I believe it will ultimately strengthen it.”

That said, if Google is an indicator, Twitter’s announcement could impact the markets, which reacted badly to the search giant’s news: in less than 24-hours over $60 billion was shed and most altcoins lost over 20% of their value.

Another problem is that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey does hold conflict roles, being that he is also the CEO of payment processor Square, who have recently been attempting to incorporate Bitcoin into their platform. This means that Dorsey’s “Twitter hat” may be leading him to pacify regulators and reduce crypto-hype; but Dorsey’s “Square hat” seems to be pushing him more into cryptocurrency territory.

Time will tell how accurate this this leaked information is. Twitter has yet to respond to inquiries. 

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The markets reacted very badly to Google’s announcement that it was going to ban all cryptocurrency advertising. Over $60 billion was shed in less than 24 hours and most altcoins lost over 20% of their value. Panic selling still gripped a large number of inexperienced traders and the markets suffered as a result.  The internet giant’s decision may not be all that bad though, at least for the top cryptocurrencies.

It is pretty obvious why central banks and governments want to control and regulate cryptocurrencies. But when advertising driven internet monopolies decide to crack down on them one has to question their motives. Google’s announcement comes a couple of months after Facebook decided to axe all ICO advertising. A bizarre move as the social network still allows rogue accounts to disseminate crypto spam, scams and clickbait among countless crypto groups which are full of this dross.

Top Cryptos Will Benefit

According to Forbes the top cryptos such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin are so well known that they don’t need advertising. Craig Cole from CryptoMaps told the news outlet;

“While this isn’t the best news, it could be a good thing for cryptocurrency. The ban will help solidify the market and weed out scam coins and illegitimate actors looking to get rich quick, providing stability. This ban doesn’t mean that cryptocurrency is going away. I believe it will ultimately strengthen it.”

With all of the scams and ‘shitcoins’ being weeded out, the overall supply of genuine good tokens will be limited which should have a positive effect on their prices. According to Coinmarketcap there are currently over 1560 cryptocurrencies, and these are just the ones that the website lists.

Crypto Media Booming

The surge in interest in cryptocurrencies has spawned a new online media sector with crypto news websites sprouting up quicker than new coins are. The more professional of these players are likely to be the ones to benefit from the web monopolies banning ads. That revenue will be channeled into smaller outfits and startups more deserving of it than likes of all consuming portals such as Facebook and Google. This will create a more diverse online ecosystem of crypto news and information for investors and traders.

Crypto warlord John McAfee remained positive about long term investments when replying to a message of concern, but was not too confident for those investing or trading in the short term.

Google’s ban is not set to start for another four months, and that is a long time in crypto land. Cryptocurrencies still need time to gain acceptance from users, and build defenses from cyber criminals, mainstream media FUD, internet monopolies, repressive governments, and billionaire bankers.

According to Google’s annual “trust and safety” ads report, the company will crack down on cryptocurrency-related advertising in the coming months. This move comes after Facebook announced its decision to ban cryptocurrency-related ads in January of this year. In a blog post, the internet giant said that many companies advertising binary options, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs were “not currently operating in good faith.” 

A section on Google’s website related to advertising policies and financial services specified that the search giant’s ban would cover ads for “Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice).” Other industries up for scrutiny include rolling spot forex and financial spread betting.

Google’s decision means that even companies with legitimate cryptocurrency offerings won’t be allowed to serve ads through any of the company’s ad products, which place advertising on its own sites as well as third-party websites. Google said it took down more than 3.2 billion ads in 2017 that violated its policies, which is nearly double the 1.7 billion it removed the year before.

Convincing advertisers that the company’s ecosystem is safe and effective is critically important — Google parent company Alphabet makes roughly 84% of its total revenue from advertising. This update will go into effect in June 2018, according to a company post.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution,” Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, told CNBC.

Jack Dorsey

These moves by Google and Facebook to ban ads for cryptocurrencies and related tech may put Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey in the hot seat. The founder of the social network is likely to find himself under pressure to follow the two companies and crack down on misleading ads for potentially risky products and services found on his platform

That said, there’s a bit of a problem: Dorsey has reason to resist because he is not only the CEO of Twitter, but also the CEO of Square Inc., which recently began to offer Bitcoin trading — permitting more users to utilize the cryptocurrency. Square is also (like many in the financial services industry) looking at other crypto and blockchain related investments and patents. In a research post Wednesday, Nomura-Instinet analyst Dan Dolev said that 60% of Square merchants surveyed by the firm said they were willing to accept Bitcoin as a payment. 

For Dorsey, his “Twitter hat” may push him to attempt to pacify regulators and reduce crypto-hype; but Dorsey’s “Square hat” may push him more into cryptocurrency territory, because that’s where the fintech money is. It’s worth having a look: even Dorsey’s own tweets reflect a sort of double-duty, sometimes promoting Square’s Bitcoin products, and sometimes reiterating Twitter’s commitment to civility.

It’s worth noting that Facebook and Google’s ad bans have yet to be fully watertight — they can be circumvented by misspelling words, for example. But at the very least they’re a sign the companies are in some way putting their users before ad profits. Time will tell if Dorsey and Twitter follow-suit. 

The cryptocurrency industry continues to fight an uphill battle on all fronts. Facebook officially banned ICO advertisements earlier this year. Google is now doing the same, but they are removing any advertisements related to cryptocurrency in general. This is a rather worrisome development that may hurt cryptocurrency’s chances of success in the long run.

A Rather Harsh Action by Google

The new decision by Google comes at a rather interesting time. In June of 2018, cryptocurrency-related advertisements will no longer be allowed on the platform. That is quite worrisome, as it virtually nullifies any promotion attempts related to Bitcoin and altcoins. It seems Google mainly wants to weed out ICOs, trading advice, and so forth.

Even legitimate companies will no longer be able to serve ads through Google. That is not a positive development by any stretch of the imagination. A lot of smaller cryptocurrency companies will struggle because of this missed opportunity. With Facebook also cracking down on cryptocurrencies, it has become evident these centralized technology giants will try to oppose this new form of money.

Whether or not other companies will follow this example, remains to be seen. Cryptocurrency interest is at an all-time high as we speak. Despite falling prices, the general public still wants information regarding Bitcoin and altcoins. If Google can’t help them out, people will flock to other solutions in this regard. This decision also highlights the need for decentralized ad networks.

What Comes Next for Cryptocurrency Advertising?

It is evident Google faces a lot of advertisements violating its policies. At the same time, targeting the cryptocurrency industry doesn’t appear to be the right course of action either. Removing reported ads is a system that simply works well. At the same time, advertising is the main source of revenue for Google parent company Alphabet. Removing anything potentially “dangerous” or “malicious” from their ecosystem makes a lot of sense.

For cryptocurrency companies, the news will be a big blow. At the same time, every closed door means another opportunity will come around. How this will affect the industry, remains to be determined. This advertising industry may remain off-limits until we see actual cryptocurrency regulation. Even then, companies such as Google may keep their foot down and not allow any ads related to this new form of money.

This news comes at a time during which Google Ventures invests in Currencycloud. This company is a global payments platform built on smart technology mainly focused on cross-border payments. It is rather uncanny how Alphabet cracks down on cryptocurrency advertisements, yet still invests in companies exploring this business model.

Google searches using the keyword Bitcoin are down since the manic run of buying in late December. This marks the lowest interest based on Google trends since Bitcoin traded at $5,000.

Google Searches Match With Market Prices

Analysts who use Google searches as an indicator of market trends have noted that since the New Year searches with the word Bitcoin have dropped about 80%. This is with fluctuations as the market dropped and then has slowly regained some of its value.

Nick Colas, DataTrek Research co-founder, who called Bitcoin “the gateway drug of cryptocurrency” on CNBC’s “Fast Money” charted the spike and decline of Google searches related to Bitcoin and correlated it with trade activity.

He went on to say that a lot of movement in the market now is lateral as opposed to new investor money. That is investors taking money from Bitcoin and putting it into Ethereum or Litecoin and that the Google search percentages reinforce that by showing gains in those coin names used in searches as the market cap increases.

“So far (google) it’s been a very reliable indicator, it showed us the way up and now it’s showing us the way back down.”

Stated Colas, he added that based on the trends he doesn’t see a price recovery in the near future since he doesn’t see a rebound in search percentages.

Google Searches Can’t Predict all Investment

Though Google searches may closely represent retail investor interest (single person or small groups) and movements, it doesn’t necessarily chart the interests of institutional investors.

Analysts who follow institutional money are seeing hedge funds putting aside large amounts of revenue for crypto investment while they continue to research and study trends in the markets.

One analyst from “Fast Money” called out for Bitcoin to skyrocket again once the institutional funds turn the corner and start to invest heavily in the crypto market, noting there are only $22 million wallets (cryptocurrency storage devices) in the world but a lot more brokerages.

The opposition argues that individual interest in Bitcoin can’t be charted the way traditional market investor interest can be. That there is a large audience, or arguably, a generation of potential investors that would have no need to Google ‘Bitcoin’.

Those who are already interested and invested are going directly to Reddit sub-threads that deal specifically with what they want to know or are following their advisers on Twitter directly. This may be a case of using outdated tools to try and predict a market that has since its inception been unpredictable to analysts who grew up studying trends in the fiat marketplace.

According to a report published Wednesday, February 14th by Cisco’s Talos Intelligence Group, a team of Ukrainian hackers dubbed CoinHoarder has stolen more than $50 million in cryptocurrency from users who were under the impression they were accessing, one of the most popular providers of virtual currency wallets.

The report details how thieves preyed on their victims using a simple technique: Buying Google ads on popular search keywords related to cryptocurrency “to poison user search results” and snatch the contents of crypto wallets. This meant people Googling terms like “blockchain” or “Bitcoin wallet,” saw links to malicious websites masquerading as legitimate domains for wallets. Fooled into believing they had come to the right place, victims then entered private information that allowed the hackers to gain access to their actual wallets and take their virtual currency.

The poison ads included “spoofed” links with small mistypes like “” and “,” which sent visitors to pages that mirrored actual websites of the company Blockchain, which runs both the domains and According to Cisco’s report, the legitimate sites appeared lower in the results than the “poisoned” links.

“The attackers needed only to continue purchasing Google AdWords to ensure a steady stream of victims,” the Talos team — led by Jeremiah O’Connor and Dave Maynor — said in their report. Cisco, which investigated the “massive phishing campaign” for more than six months in partnership with Ukraine’s Cyberpolice, noted that the Coinhoarder group’s method has since “become increasingly common in the wild, with attackers targeting many different crypto wallets and exchanges.”

The Coinhoarder thefts occurred over the course of three years but surged at the end of 2017 as Bitcoin prices soared close to $20,000, with $10 million stolen between September and December. In one run, the hackers made off with $2 million in the span of fewer than four weeks, the Talos researchers said. Further, it’s very likely the value of the steals total much more than $50 million now, as Talos based its calculations on cryptocurrency prices at the time of the theft.

Cisco found that the Coinhoarder scam disproportionately ensnared those from underbanked regions where cryptocurrency has caught on as an alternative means of storing wealth: Residents of African countries such as Nigeria and Ghana made up the majority of those who landed on the malignant websites.

For years Ukrainian hackers have preyed on bitcoin investors, emptying wallets and then hiding behind the inherent anonymity of the encrypted blockchain.

$50 million in stolen cryptocurrency

Now Cisco has exposed a notorious Ukranian hacker ring known as Coinhoarder (very subtle) possibly responsible for thefts equaling more than $50 million from over many years.

According to a report from Cisco’s Talos cybersecurity team, the thieves used a ‘simple yet treacherous’ form of phishing that involved salting Google adwords with near named sites like

Users entered their security information thinking they were on legitimate sites which allowed hackers to steal cryptocurrency directly from their registered wallets. According to the Talos team;

“The attackers needed only to continue purchasing Google AdWords to ensure a steady stream of victims,”

Treacherous Phishing

Cisco investigated this group’s Phishing campaign for over six months in cooperation with Ukrainian cyber-police and found that its technique had ‘become increasingly common in the wild, with attackers targeting many different crypto wallets and exchanges.

The Coinhoarder thefts occurred over three years but culminated in late 2017 as the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rose sharply. The group reportedly got away with $10 million between Sept. and Dec. and in one frantic burst of advertising snatched $2 million in less than 4 weeks.

Cisco was able to trace some of the stolen funds with the assistance of Ukrainian law enforcement to the thieves own wallet address. Though this doesn’t reveal the identity of the crooks as the wallets are under pseudonyms, Cisco hopes that by scouring forums like Reddit they may eventually pick up clues to the real names of the hackers.

Coinhoarders aren’t the only hacker group to use phishing as a way to attract potential victims. The same technique is employed by the notorious Lazarus Group from North Korea. Cisco found that people from countries with insufficient banking facilities and services are more likely to fall prey to these kinds of techniques as they look towards cryptocurrency as an alternative way to store and move wealth.

In a bit of irony residents from the African countries of Nigeria and Ghana top this list of victims. Schemes like phishing that rely on digital ads have prompted Facebook to ban all cryptocurrency ads while Google is exploring ways to put an end to the misleading and fraudulent use of Adwords.

Still, the Cisco security team hopes to ultimately discover and reveal those involved in the Coinhoarder group and maybe even being able to return the stolen funds to their rightful owners. Though that is most likely wishful thinking.

Following Facebook’s announcement last week that it was banning all advertising for binary options, cryptocurrencies, and initial coin offerings (ICOs), a Canadian regulator has called on Google to do the same.

On January 30th, Facebook announced it was banning all advertising for binary options, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs following pressure from the FBI and Canadian securities regulators, as both groups step-up investigations into online investment fraud.

“We’ve created a new policy that prohibits ads that promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency,” Facebook product management director Rob Leathern wrote in a blog post detailing the company’s ban.

In response (according to an interview with The Times of Israel), Jason Roy, a senior investigator at the Manitoba Securities Commission and chairman of Canada’s Binary Options Task Force, said: “We’re very pleased with Facebook’s decision. My hope is that Google will enact a similar policy, where they specifically name products like binary options, ICOs, and cryptocurrencies.”

But Google, who generates a lot of the paid traffic for fraudulent binary options, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs, has yet to ban the ads. When asked whether the company was going to enact a similar ban, Google spokeswoman Roni Levin replied by email, saying: “We already ban and enforce against misleading ads and misrepresentation (across all categories). Here are the policies — Misrepresentation and Misleading Ads.”

A quick search for both “binary options” and “cryptocurrencies” in the Google search bar reveal that the company is, in fact, still selling ads for these products.

A particular focus by Roy and other regulators is the presence of binary options, which are often called all-or-nothing options. And while it is perhaps true that this sector of the industry is plagued by frauds — Israel and a number of other countries have banned them entirely — it can be a problem when the authorities lump all crypto-sectors together. There are huge differences in risk between, say, binary options, and well-researched small investments into cryptocurrencies.

Roy doesn’t necessarily see it that way, though. When looking at cryptocurrency ads circulating the internet, he sees an ominous pattern: “You have the former binary options firms that have made the switch to offering cryptocurrencies, and it’s basically the binary options scam 2.0.”

Roy said that Canadian and other law enforcement agencies are waiting for Google to follow Facebook and enact a specific ban: “What happened is that Canada’s Binary Options Task Force, as well as the FBI, explained to Facebook what the concerns were and that these types of ads are leading to people becoming victims. We’ve been talking to Google and had similar discussions and are waiting for them to take similar action.”

Cryptojackers have been hijacking YouTube ads to harness viewers computer processing power in order to mine digital currencies, in this case, Monero. The issue was reported by technology publication and science Ars Technica after people took to social media to report that antivirus programs had detected cryptocurrency malware on YouTube. 

Attackers abused Google’s DoubleClick, which develops and provides internet ad serving services for traffic distribution. According to data from the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network, affected countries include Japan, France, Taiwan, Italy, and Spain. Google has now blocked the ads from being displayed on YouTube.

Unfortunately, most victims are unaware of what is going on – the process is carried out secretly without users having the opportunity to opt out. Even though a download isn’t required, hackers devised an approach where cryptojacking can continue even after users close the tab itself. And unfortunately, since it is a relatively new concept, hackers can innovate, changing their methods in an attempt to continue their devious plan.

90% of the time, the malicious adverts would launch a miner called Coinhive, and in the other 10% of cases a private web miner would be used. Each would covertly use up 80% of victims’ computer processing power for mining, resulting in the machine running much, much slower than normal. These recent ads have helped drive up the volume of cryptojacking incidents involving Coinhive by almost 285%.

“Mining cryptocurrency through ads is a relatively new form of abuse that violates our policies and one that we’ve been monitoring actively,” a Google spokesperson told The Independent“We enforce our policies through a multi-layered detection system across our platforms which we update as new threats emerge. In this case, the ads were blocked in less than two hours and the malicious actors were quickly removed from our platforms.”

Despite these claims from Google that the process is “relatively new,” cryptojacking has become increasingly popular over the years —  and YouTube’s ad problem was not an isolated incident. Research has shown that in the top 3 million websites, 2,500 are running a form of cryptojacking software, consuming users’ processing power without their knowledge or consent.

Cryptocurrency users have seen their fair share of phishing scams over the years. In most cases, those scams involve fake exchange or wallet websites. Users are often contacted through an email campaign, which is often somewhat successful. This is a big problem that needs to be addressed. Things only get worse when the top Google Search result for the Bittrex exchange is a phishing site as well. This method of attack has become more prevalent in recent months.

Rest assured cryptocurrency users will see more phishing attempts in the future. Criminals know exchange users often use lackluster account security. All they need is a login and password to empty account balances with ease. In the case of Bittrex, that has become a lot more difficult. In a new update, the company introduces mandatory email-based 2FA for all users upon logging in. A great move forward, especially considering the growing number of phishing scams in circulation.

Phishing Clone of Bittrex Dominates Google Search Results

More specifically, the top search result for Bittrex on Google in a phishing scam. This is one of the sponsored ads which show up during most people’s searches. The domain name in question is It also uses a fake description which makes it look somewhat legitimate, though. People need to be very careful when Googling for website address rather than entering them manually. It’s not hard to remember the domain name, though. Still, novice users often struggle with this concept, which makes them prone targets for such phishing scams.

It has to be said, this fake Bittrex website looks like an exact copy of the original. However, a closer look at the address bar unveils you are using This domain was registered about two weeks ago, indicating this scam has been going on for some time now. It is unclear who registered the domain, though, but we do know they use CloudFlare protection. It also appears the ad is no longer showing up for some people depending on their region, which shows Google is taking action against this scam.

Unfortunately, we will probably see more of these phishing sites in the future. Cybercriminals know users store a lot of money in an exchange wallet. It is up to individual users to take the necessary security precautions. Enabling 2FA in your account is an obvious first step. Not keeping funds in an exchange wallet is the better strategy, though. There are dozens of mobile, desktop, and hardware wallet solutions out there. Keeping your funds safe should be the number one priority for every cryptocurrency user. Otherwise, phishing attempts like these will remain far too successful.