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Google bans cryptocurrency ads (support.google.com)
686 points by em3rgent0rdr on Mar 14, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 344 comments

I was listening to terrestrial radio the other day and was surprised to hear a radio advertisement beckoning retirees to cash in their 401ks to join the cryptocurrency future of Bitcoin and Ethereum. The bubble is too big for Google to slow it down and it has grown beyond the realm of tech savvy geeks into something fueled by hype and hubris.

From the best tweetstorm ever on topic by Sarah Jeong:


> All of this has gone too far!!!!! It was fine when you paranoid dorks were out there scamming each other, please leave the normies alone!!!!!!!!!!!

All her tweets on the subject are great

>Internet rando 2: What about people who live under oppressed governments with unsound currency

>Me: Only if the problem with their currency is that it's not volatile enough and the transaction speeds are too fast

>"People are sick of the Federal Reserve, sick of bailouts, sick of inflation. You know what we need? Internet money with the usability of PGP and the stability of BART service"

I loved this tweetstorm, but I must say, it's never taken me weeks to take a BART trip, but it's definitely taken me weeks to clear a BTC transaction.

Like hey, BART isn't that bad.

Really? Her posts strike me as sophomoric at best. Just enough knowledge to seem rather than to be.

Except paranoid dorks are not the ones scamming. It's a completely different group of people who created the space, and completely different one that twisted it into a farce, created thousands of scam ICOs and altcoins that make no sense. Well, some overlap actually might be there, but not that much.

It was only a handful of engineers who "created the space" to begin with, so even though there isn't much overlap, it's pretty much always been a community made up of shady folks, it's only that the fraudsters have become less technically sophisticated and more brazen as activity has increased and the blockchain community has grown and continued to radiate cosmic rays of hype.

> always been a community made up of shady folks

That's not fair. Shady folks are just getting more publicity. Noone talks about people who created stuff that works and doesn't scam people. And there's a lot of such stuff. This space is growing because of such people, despite the shady folks.

>Noone talks about people who created stuff that works and doesn't scam people. And there's a lot of such stuff.

No, there isn't. It's always been nebulous talk of "potential" without any concrete uses beyond scams and criminal activity. There have just been iterations of tools for those areas. Then you have the near-religious libertarian True Believers who promote as a matter of faith, regardless of what the reality is.

This article remains ever-so-relevant:

>Ten years in, nobody has come up with a use for blockchain


True democratic and transparent electronic voting system is a legitimate use case for the block chain.

The fact it's hard to not only implement correctly, but to promote to society does not mean it's not relevant.

Good things take time.

Remember that people thought for some time that general relativity and the Law of large Numbers would never have practical applications.

>True democratic and transparent electronic voting system is a legitimate use case for the block chain.

As always with these claims (that, as noted below, have not actually been implemented and so can only be speculated on), the question isn't whether this could be done with the blockchain, but rather whether this requires the blockchain to be done.

All too often the claimed magical things the blockchain will allow can be implemented far more easily with other, existing technology. So far it's a solution in search of a problem.

Nobody is talking magic. We have a system with characteristics that maps to problems we wish to solve and we try to do it.

Nothing wrong with that.

The fact crypto is riddle with quick money making claims and project using the blockchain for sheer buzziness tends to make skeptics extra pessimistics in their views.

It's unfair to the technology.

We have a transaction oriented temper proof distributed transparent database.

Those are objective features, and they deserve we give them a try.

> True democratic and transparent electronic voting system is a legitimate use case for the block chain.

Full public transparency isn't that great a property of a voting system.

And it's hard to call it a "legitimate use case" before it's successful.

Transparency of votes doesn't have to map to identity of voters. The blockchain is transparent, what you put inside is left to the implementer to choose.

And come on, it's a highly experimental technology whise use cases impact the most controversial aspects of our society : money, vote, accountability, transparency, power to the masse.

Of course it's going to take time and fail in many spectacular ways.

> It's always been nebulous talk of "potential" without any concrete uses beyond scams and criminal activity.

I suppose it might count as criminal activity, but as far as I know, it's the only way to donate to Sci Hub.


Part of why bitcoin was semi viable before it's intentional scarcity killed all of growth potential is that any society needs a gray market of things that are illegal but often essential for social mobility(like pirated textbooks and academic papers, or unmonitored cross border communication).

The problem for bitcoin arrived when people begun to see it as something that could be more then an underground activity and started treating it like an investment object and essentially reinvented the old failed concept of "wildcat currencies" with an intentional scarce currency, something made viable by the libertarian refusal to even look at the real world history of economics.

What we now have is a bitcoin economy thats hit a hard(intentional) limit of growth forcing people to branch away from bitcoin as the revolutionary application of blockchain in a world where some minor advances are made in actually using the underlying theory for something other then scams, creating a market ripe for new wildcat currencies pretenting to be be "what bitcoin failed to become".

I didn't say they were evil, but most of the early activity around bitcoin was swirling around in the dark markets which I think is totally fair to describe as shady.

Those were the users, not the creators.

To this day nobody knows who Satoshi Nakamoto actually is, while that's not super shady it also ain't exactly transparent.

I wasn't referring to the users, but the creators and the users are inextricable, someone "created" all those dark markets where the users participated.

I would love to see a list of CONCRETE examples of cryptocoins that are doing good, productive things TODAY.

Not a list but:

"UN’s World Food Programme Builds on Ethereum Blockchain Money Transfers"


"The pilot alone is said to save the agency $150,000 a month while eliminating a staggering 98% of bank-related transfer fees, according to Munich WFP innovation lab chief Bernhard Kowatsch."

I don't see how blockchain is relevant to that solution. Couldn't they do the same thing with any database-backed web app tracking account balances?

There you go if you want a list of concrete examples: https://pineapplefund.org/

> always been a community made up of shady folks

This is so clearly false that it overshadows the rest of your comment. You _cannot_ claim these things without proof and your point is so easily disproven that it's not worth the time to even do so.

Every time tech people invent a new way for people to interact, someone comes along and figures out a way to use it for a scammy interaction. And it's effective because it is new, which means it is both exciting and poorly understood.

The difference here is that there’s not much else. In contrast, things like the internet or web had tons of legitimate use from day 1.

Yeah, this particular technology is particularly vulnerable to scamming for additional reasons. Not just lack of widespread usefulness, but because it's also _close_ solving a real problem people think they have. And it's just legitimate enough that it has some valid niche uses, which lends an air of credibility to the whole thing. It's merely a scam, it's something which can be turned into a scam.

I discovered her twitter account during the uber trial. She is hilarious and worth following.

Agreed — her reporting for The Verge is consistently amazing: https://www.theverge.com/users/Sarah%20Jeong

> "People are sick of the Federal Reserve, sick of bailouts, sick of inflation. You know what we need? Internet money with the usability of PGP and the stability of BART service"

Why is something that paints anyone who has legitimate concerns about financial censorship and mass surveillance a "paranoid dork", one of the best tweet storms ever? It's exactly this kind of crude tribalism that prevents constructive civil discourse and encourages ideological narrow-mindedness and conformity.

If you care about surveillance, bitcoin is the last thing you want to be involved with: you’re creating a permanent non-repudiable record and gift-wrapping it for them!

My point is that the Tweet implies that being motivated by concerns over the government's control over our financial transactions is objectionable. It makes someone a "paranoid dork". That's a terribly derisive attitude toward something that can be an extremely reasonable concern.

And since we're on the subject, Bitcoin allowed individuals to get around the financial blockade against Wikileaks a few years ago. It has also allowed Venezuelans, who have been driven to abject poverty by their government, to get their capital out of the country and the reach of their government.

As for privacy, there are other cryptocurrencies, like Monero (ring signatures) and Ethereum (potential to create ring signatures, and since the Byzantium hard fork, zk-SNARK proofs), that open the door to significant privacy.

The problem is that using Bitcoin doesn't change the government's control over your transactions: you're just spending a lot of effort elaborately dancing around the issue. This shows up in both examples you cited: if the Venezuelan government wants to enforce capital controls, the people who used Bitcoin are going to wish they'd smuggled suitcases of cash out of the country instead because they've left a durable paper-trail of their transactions behind.

Some other cryptocurrencies try to deliver anonymity but even if the technology eventually delivers they'll have the same problem that almost everyone needs to get real money out of the system and that's where the normal banking laws kick in. Outside of a few cases where someone can do entirely unregulated remote work most people are going to need to convert to or from local currency to pay their bills or receive income.

The tweet author is not ridiculing them because Bitcoin has poor privacy and they think it doesn't. She's ridiculing them for wanting a censorship resistant form of money. It's the derisive attitude toward a reasonable desire that I'm criticising.

>>This shows up in both examples you cited: if the Venezuelan government wants to enforce capital controls, the people who used Bitcoin are going to wish they'd smuggled suitcases of cash out of the country instead because they've left a durable paper-trail of their transactions behind.

It does want to enforce capital controls but it is far more costly and difficult to do so against users of Bitcoin than users of against traditional trusted third party controlled intermediaries.

It's not a simple matter for the Venezuelan government to determine which pseudonymous transactions on a cryptocurrency blockchain belong to which Venezuelan resident. It is also much more costly to enforce a law against many thousands of end users versus a handful of large intermediaries operating in the country.

Do you really think it's equally easy for the Venezuelan government to enforce capital controls with the traditional financial system and with cryptocurrency?

>>even if the technology eventually delivers they'll have the same problem that almost everyone needs to get real money out of the system and that's where the normal banking laws kick in.

Yes it won't be perfect but it will increase the cost/difficulty of mass surveillance of financial transactions. Many of the measures that would be needed for a government to prevent private use of cryptocurrency would be politically unpalatable.

I mean because yeah, fuck the paranoid dorks, right? /s

That's a closet NIMBY if I ever heard one. It was FINE when they were only stabbing each other in the bad neighbourhoods, but PLEASE leave the normal neighbourhoods alone!!!! NOW all of this has gone too far ...

I'm pleased to see that now that the price has fallen, the tone of BTC discussions in general has taken on a more sober tone amid the endless recriminations.

> Get out of my mentions unless you read the white paper at least five years ago or earlier

Love it, thanks for sharing.

It does seem like she is making the mistake of conflating Bitcoin with general crypto however, which can be misleading to her audience.

Bitcoin indeed suffers from slow transaction speeds and extreme volatility.

Other coins, truer to the original vision, fair much better in those respects, and with wide adoption and usage, the volatility would subside.

Sarah Jeong posted that "crypto is short for cryptography" shouting-from-rooftops sketch a while back but I'm not sure where it's gone.

I think when she refers to Bitcoin, she also means every other piece of madness that has come after it including altcoins/cryptocurrencies on the whole; and does not play favourites.

Edit: Here's some evidence - https://twitter.com/search?q=%40sarahjeong%20cryptocurrency

I'm sure similar searches on related terms will reveal a similar sentiment very opposite to yours.

This isn't an issue of bias from bad sources. I took issue with very specific complaints that were largely only true of Bitcoin, which has been undermined by corporate interests.

The ICO / ponzi scheme / overnight stock expert craze is ridiculous and I do not take part.

But Bitcoin Cash (closer to the vision of the original bitcoin whitepaper that she herself mentions, which she should know Bitcoin has now deviated significantly from) has been a transparent, expansive, and welcome addition to my other payment channels, much like Bitcoin used to be in the heyday.

I enjoy using it when and where I can, I enjoy the decentralization, the lack of reliance on the banking system, etc.

I am precisely that narrow part of the population she is highlighting.

Most of her points are entirely correct, but besides her conflation of some of Bitcoin's problems with other cryptocurrency, she ultimately discredits me and others who understand exactly what the point of cryptocurrency is, and its benefits to our lifestyles, with the dismissive phrase, "See you at Burning Man."

She must associate cryptocurrency with a specific kind of character and then attack that character instead, in order to drive her argument. That's fallacious and misleading.

Google doesn't want to slow it down. They just don't want to be associated with companies that are related to fraud. And, I think that this is a valid and correct choice for Google because they have their own brand to protect.

There’s just too many poor ICOs launching and floating around for Google to moderate and police all the potential ads they’d buy. Google has shown no issue with deliberately reducing the service of it’s product to offset future headaches before.

> They just don't want to be associated with companies that are related to fraud.

More specifically, Google doesn't want the SEC to hold them liable when they go after some of these fraudsters.

They also don't want:

* sites abandoning adsense because they don't want to be associated with cryptocurrency

* users installing adblockers because they don't want to be running monero miners

I've tend to chat with drivers when I take Lyft, and frequently mention that I'm a programmer. Several of the drivers have then asked me about cryptocurrency, mostly Bitcoin and Ethereum. I try to discuss how technically interesting they are, but how financially shaky; that there is likely a bubble and that they are probably not good long term investment options but could be worth buying a little bit for fun.

We are definitely in a very hype driven cryptocurrency bubble right now, and there are a lot of naive folks who are probably going to lose money to it.

And yet somehow, we haven't really managed to make any cryptocurrencies an actual, widely accepted, payment alternative, for anyone other than a few people with special circumstances (government restrictions on currency exchange, criminals demanding ransoms, funding organizations that governments are trying to shut down) or people who are fairly technically competent.

There's a chance the lightning network could be the last piece of the puzzle to make cryptocurrencies actually usable for payment, though even still, I have a hard time seeing most places wanting to accept payment in an asset as volatile as Bitcoin.

Or maybe we'll see a coin backed by fiat currency and real, regulated banks on Stellar, where you don't have nearly the same scalability issues nor gigawatts of power wasted just to try to solve Sybil attacks. If you have a coin backed by fiat currency, and low transaction costs, businesses are a lot more likely to accept it as payment as most of their expenses, taxes, debts, and so on are in the local fiat currency rather than than in any cryptocurrency.

> I have a hard time seeing most places wanting to accept payment in an asset as volatile as Bitcoin.

I have an even harder time seeing any of those people who invest in bitoin using their coins for purchases.

That too. The deflationary nature of Bitcoin makes it really unsuitable for use as an actual currency, and of course the amount of speculation going on.

Everyone I know who got into crypto has the same story: for some silly reason they all bought like 5-10 different coins and it would be inordinately complicated and expensive to sell them all.

I'm pretty sure whatever "newbie guides" exist out there purposely lead people to this awful state.

"Crypto" is short for "cryptography" (or related words like "cryptographic").

Using "crypto" to abbreviate "cryptocurrency" causes a lot of confusion, as the "crypto" in "cryptocurrency" was already an abbreviation; "cryptocurrency" is short for "cryptographic currency."

People who know nothing about cryptography or even that cryptocurrency uses cryptography get confused if they are looking for information about cryptocurrencies and instead find more general purpose resources on cryptography (like https://crypto.stackexchange.com/ or https://www.reddit.com/r/crypto/).

I know that this is a losing battle, like getting people to stop using "wiki" as an abbreviation for Wikipedia (which is just one out of many wikis), but I figure that as long as we're talking about people not knowing much but investing in it anyhow, I really encourage everyone to stop using "crypto" as an abbreviation for "cryptocurrency."

Its actually Ancient Greek for secret

> "Crypto" is short for "cryptography" (or related words like "cryptographic"). You know who decided that? The population that was using these terms.

Now a similar population at large has decided the new usage rules. It's normal, it's just evolution of the English language. By this point, "crypto" is indeed widely used as a short term for Cryptocurrencies also.

People who know nothing about things are going to get confused either way. The society can't form every single rule just so every person who doesn't know anything will have a clear mind. If they want to learn something, they will. And learning that "crypto" can mean two things, in a language where it's already commonplace for terms to mean different things in different areas - is not a huge thing.

> Now a similar population at large has decided the new usage rules. It's normal, it's just evolution of the English language. By this point, "crypto" is indeed widely used as a short term for Cryptocurrencies also.

Yes, this is why I say that I know this is a losing battle.

I mostly care about it in the context of technical forums like Hacker News. While the word may have a different meaning for the population at large, when you're having a discussion on a technical forum you should generally try to learn how words are used in that context.

This is somewhat like the different meanings for the word "theory" in a scientific context and in general use. In general use, "theory" means an idea that may not yet have been tested or proven, somewhere around the meaning of "idea", "hunch", or "hypothesis", while in a scientific context "theory" indicates something that has been tested successfully and is well accepted.

While the use of "theory" in the broader sense is well accepted in general use, using it in that sense in a discussion about scientific theories is confusing; so if someone does that in such a discussion, I am likely to point out the stronger meaning of the word in scientific usage.

So likewise, while "crypto" as an abbreviation of "cryptocurrency" is already fairly widespread (though I think still niche enough that there's a tiny chance a concerted effort could change usage patterns), I at least want to make sure that folks getting involved in technical discussions are made aware of the earlier definition of "crypto" and are made aware of the confusion that can be caused.

Leonidas would be proud of you

OK, so the new abbreviation is "₡oin".

The frustrating bit is that these scams paint a really sour picture of the space as a whole. There's a lot of value to cryptocurrencies, and as a technology it's poised to change the world in some very serious ways. People latch onto it because it's a powerful idea and because the underlying technology has a lot of legitimacy to it.

People hear ads about how you need to move over your 401k and discount the whole space as a scam. The scams are crowding out the innovation, drawing potentially disastrous regulatory scrutiny, and as a whole setting back a legitimate budding industry substantially.

I hope that when regulators finally do step in, they are able to take actions that stop the scams without destroying the underlying technology.

> People latch onto it because it's a powerful idea and because the underlying technology has a lot of legitimacy to it.

A few, but the vast majority have latched onto it because they think it will make them rich. Almost no one buying into cryptocurrencies could explain a blockchain if their life depended on it.

> A few, but the vast majority have latched onto it because they think it will make them rich

Self-interested value creation has generated the vast majority of great achievements in the world. I don't see what wrong with that being a primary motivation to invest time and resources into something?

Why else should people do it? Only for fun or altruistic reasons?

If that was the case then cryptocurrencies would still be novelty on the internet only known to nerds. That may be safer and harmless and idealistic but it would be entirely insignificant.

Nearly all big developments requires risk, experimentation, and early failures until it matures into a stable and well understood technology.

Every time I hear about Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies on mainstream radio/media they always mention it's volatility and risk. Google results are full of stories about it. The association between risk and cryptocurrencies are essentially common-sense these days, as it rightfully should be. I'm not sure why everyone's acting like it's some big secret we need to protect people from.

If it's an explicit scam or ponzi scheme then yes that's a problem worth worrying about, and we already have plenty of laws, regulations, and agencies to deal with that already. But I don't quite agree with automatically lumping all paid mentions of cryptocurrencies and blockchains into that category.

"Self-interested value creation has generated the vast majority of great achievements in the world."

The hell it has. Polio vaccine? Symphonies? Cathedrals? The Sistine Chapel? Representative democracy? The works of the great philosophers? The moon landings? The Mars rovers?

I'd say, make a list of the top 100 "great achievements in the world" and strong odds are, they're either done by some poor but intensely driven person, or a government that represents a lot more than one self-interested value creating person.

> Why else should people do it? Only for fun or altruistic reasons?

Well the OP I was responding to suggested that people were doing it because "it's a powerful idea and because the underlying technology has a lot of legitimacy to it".

>The frustrating bit is that these scams paint a really sour picture of the space as a whole. There's a lot of value to cryptocurrencies, and as a technology it's poised to change the world in some very serious ways.

This gets repeated ad nauseam. Maybe it might be time to consider that this tidal wave of scams IS the way the technology is changing the world?

> The frustrating bit is that these scams paint a really sour picture of the space as a whole. There's a lot of value to cryptocurrencies, and as a technology it's poised to change the world in some very serious ways. People latch onto it because it's a powerful idea and because the underlying technology has a lot of legitimacy to it.

> People hear ads about how you need to move over your 401k and discount the whole space as a scam. The scams are crowding out the innovation, drawing potentially disastrous regulatory scrutiny, and as a whole setting back a legitimate budding industry substantially.

I accept your reasoning. But cryptography was all the time about how one can "scam" another person or prevent being scammed (where "scammed" in this case means e.g. that the cipher is broken).

To give a concrete example: MITM attacks on, say, Diffie-Hellman key exchange (just the standard textbook MITM attack if DH is used without any certificate) is in this wording just scamming the user that he has a secure connection while in reality someone can eavesdrop it or even modify sent messages. Of course the standard solution for this exact problem is to use X.509 certificates. But the "scamming" does not stop here: Of course a malicious person immediately thinks about more sophisticated attacks such as replay attacks to scam the user and again of course the protocols use methods to prevent this.

In this sense my counterclaim is that this does not "paint a really sour picture of the space as a whole", but just presents the "ordinary man" with what cryptography has been about for decades in a completely realistic (though in this case perhaps somewhar painful) way.

You can't just redefine words to try and connect unrelated concepts.

in Italy, which is not the heart of tech bubbles, there have been reports (I got a call too!) of telemarketers cold calling people to invest in cryptocurrencies.

This genuinely frightened me.

I've received a couple in the UK. Low end telemarketers (overseas, poor English, zero knowledge of their subject matter) and clearly originating from random dialling or a list of mobile numbers without names, so making traditional boiler room operations seem sophisticated.

I wonder at what point it becomes profitable to hire telemarketers to drive interest in a cryptocurrency you've bought into so you can pump and dump, especially if these telemarketers are coming from overseas where they're notoriously cheap.

Watch the John Oliver segment on cryptocurrencies from this weekend. They have a promo video from a company that is literally advertising pump and dump schemes.

Same in Norway. Last week "Åsted Norge" reported about it.

The cases they told about were pure scams where the fraudsters stole the cryptocurrencies directly.

There’s almost certainly no actual cryptocurrency involved. This sounds like a generic money-wiring scam.

I received one such call (in Italy)...

Anecdotal, but I have an uncle who, is a very good man but completely illiterate in terms of technology and closely resembles a "Larry the cable guy" stereotype, bought a surprising amount of bitcoin and then called me to ask how it worked, what make the price change, etc.

It seems shoe shiners can come in many forms. But that was the particular one for me to unload all of my bitcoin and other crypto and get out while I was ahead.

He bought it and then asked you what he'd just spent all this money on?

Yes, essentially. He understood it was some kind of currency. But wasn't sure _why_ people used it, _what_ they really used it for or what all the hype was about. He bought mostly due to fear of missing out.

Watched some CNBC yesterday - that channel is about 1/3 cryptocurrencies now. Ads, news, and the "crypto guy" who comes on and tells you to buy monero.

FM radio ads trying to scam retirees? Wow, it's hard to go lower than that, but people have managed. John Oliver's recent segment on crypto was mostly intro-level, but he managed to dig up a video ad for a pump-and-dump ring. It wasn't at all wink-and-nudge or euphemistic: they pretty much flat out said "join our group to pump and dump cryptocurrencies and shaft some rubes."

I'll be surprised if the whole space doesn't completely crater sometime this year, a bunch of ordinary people get shafted, and the SEC steps in and knocks some heads. There's no way I'm getting near this until after the dust settles.

And Steven Seagal!

He is the spokesman/brand ambassador for "Bitcoiin".

Yes that is two "I"s.

unless its not a bubble anf the bubble is when you look at the stock market and america's debt

I saw an ad for a cryptocurrency on the seat-back TV on a United flight recently, I was pretty surprised.

Did they offer in flight 401-k redemptions and reinvestment in shitecoins?

> The bubble is too big for Google

There is the "bubble" word again. So how about our economy, isn't that a bubble too?

What is a bubble? I still see too many places in the world where the sales price for a house is easily 10x the price it actually cost to build it. Banks? Quantitative easing? Startup's? Or at what point will Google look like a bubble itself?

Governments and Banks have learned that the crypto-currency revolution can replace a significant part of our current economy. Whether that's good or bad news, calling it a bubble is foolish and cheap IMHO.

Sure, any bubble can pop. But unlike some other assets, like houses, many popular cryptocurrencies currently have little-to-no intrinsic value.

does an AMZ share have an intrinsic value?

Yes because at the end of the day an share of AMZ means you own a small percentage of that company. That includes a small percentage of all their physical assets, servers, real estate, cash on hand etc.

So yeah there is some intrinsic value.

can you go to amazon headquarters and exchange an AMZ share for an office chair? as a physical asset? i have a feeling that security will escort you from the building before you finish the transaction. the only intrinsic value will be the bruises on your wrists.

edit: the value of the share (in the old good days) is the discounted cash flow. you invest in a business, then business pays you the share of the profits (hence - share) in the form of dividends. AMZ share does NOT pay any dividends, nor does grant you any voting rights. nothing. zero. this is your intrinsic value.

> can you go to amazon headquarters and exchange an AMZ share for an office chair?

If the total value of share prices drops below the value of the assets, you can buy all the shares, take the company private and sell off all the assets to make money.

Assets (vs liabilities) thus can put a floor on the value of a stock price.

i have AMZ shares. and i am still waiting when amazon business goes down the drain so i can take amazon private and sell off its assets and make profit. one helluva business plan and intrinsic value.

Just because something is illiquid or can't be returned doesn't mean it has no value.

AMZ is very liquid:)

it is amazing that no one seems to be able to answer simple question - what financial benefit do i get from ownership of an AMZ share? other that selling it to a bigger fool.

Exactly. Cryptocurrency valuations at the moment are 99% speculation about future utility. Actually it may be 99.9%.

Pet peeve: made up numbers. Why not just use an adverb?

Yes, I spend a lot of time annoyed.

Yes I should have said "on the order of 99%". I think generally figures like "99%", when used in this context, imply that this is an approximate value, but I agree that it's better to explicitly state that.

yep. the only intrinsic value i get in exchange for 1,300$ AMZ share is the link explaining the value of an intrinsic value. what exactly can you claim from amazon in exchange for a share? except for a kick in a butt from amazon security?

Good. I accidentally turned off my ad-blocker a few days ago. Almost all the ads I saw were variants on "Be paid for using your phone - download our app to mine crypto!"

I've worked in ad-tech. Part of the problem is the scale is too large for advertising networks to check all the adverts. If you run a newspaper, you get to see and approve the ads before running with them.

Online, at best, an advertising network might see the initial ad & landing page, but then it is rapidly changed once live.

After Facebook announced it would stop crypto adverts I continued to see them for quite a while.

Facebook detects text in ads and will alert you when there is too much. I imagine it also reads that text and therefore would be quite easy to auto flag ads with "ICO" "Crypto" "Coin" in them.

I believe this to be a good decision. Investment should not be driven by advertisement but by facts. In my experience, any investment advertisement tying to appeal to mass audiences is fraud. This is no different for cryptocurrencies and reminds me of the penny stock scams.

I feel the same way about prescription drugs. Those are for doctors to prescribe, not for patients to request.

That's why advertising drugs is banned world over.

Not in the USA apparently.

Lots of things banned world over are legal in the USA.


Is the political flamebait really necessary? It is possible for reasonable people to disagree on the fundamental rights the USA recognizes its citizens have, but that is not a great topic for HN.


This is also political flamebait :/

The first percussion cap for a cartridge wasn't patented until 1807, not in common use until 1825-30 when the bolt action arrived, and not popularized until the Colt revolver in 1835.

Rapid firing guns of more than ~6 shots didn't arrive in the US until the civil war.

If you prefer to be pedantic regarding English sentence construction, instead of the actual problem that costs lives every single year,

> Like carrying guns as if we were still in the 19th century.

Actually, it was a point about what the writers of the constitution considered arms in the meaning of the second amendment... they were muskets, not even revolvers much less semi-automatic weapons. I happen to be quite aware of the "actual problem", and I'd like to work with all people to solve it, since I know people who have been killed by fire arms... even if I am a pedant. What is your damage?

Interesting I would have thought it was much earlier. I had to look it up on wikipedia:

>The first device identified as a gun, a bamboo tube that used gunpowder to fire a spear, appeared in China around AD 1000. The Chinese had previously invented gunpowder in the 9th century.


>English Privy Wardrobe accounts list "ribaldis", a type of cannon, in the 1340s, and siege guns were used by the English at Calais in 1346.The earliest surviving[clarification needed] firearm in Europe has been found from Otepää, Estonia and it dates to at least 1396.

I think it's fair to say that guns have been around a lot longer than the USA has.

Presumably children wouldn't write college essays about their experiences protesting the bamboo tube with a spear sticking out of it?

USA drug purchases fund most global drug research. That money comes from somewhere. It's fine for us to question whether this is the best way for drugs to be marketed in our nation, but for the rest of the world to do so seems a bit ungrateful?

Oh the noble Americans! Suffering under the yolk of oppressive pharma so the rest of the world can take advantage! Praise be.

Really, though, it's absurd to demand that the rest of world be grateful. Try changing the system in the US and you will find it exceedingly difficult due to the deep pockets of big pharma and the massive role money plays in the US democratic system. So no, the rest of the world should not be grateful that a capitalist system is doing what it does.

Haha there are probably some who would "demand" that but I'm not one. You seem to be agreeing with me, though? Our drug marketing regulations are after all just "a capitalist system... doing what it does". No point in complaining about it, especially since unlike most aspects of American hegemony it actually helps all you unfortunate non-Americans. b^)

So you'll be boycotting USA-invented/financed drugs?

If people stop using these drugs if they're not advertised maybe they're not that useful in the first place? Isn't there enough money to be made selling real treatments for real diseases?

The answer to your first question is certainly "yes". Unfortunately the answer to the second is "no". No pharma executive ever got a bonus for saving lives.

That doesn't make sense to me. If life-saving drugs don't make money and pharmas are purely rational actors trying to maximize profit why would they bother investing money into them anyway? Also "life-saving" is a high bar, I was merely talking about "useful". If you figure out a great remedy for baldness you might not save lives but you wont have any issue making billions selling it, advertising or not.

If you only way to sell a drug is to convince people they need it in the first place then I think it ought to be illegal, yes. Look at the massive opioid crisis in the USA which stems in great part from pharma pushing drugs people didn't really need and getting them addicted. If that's the only way you can figure out to fund cancer research we have a big problem indeed.

Opioids don't need marketing. Opioid aficionados will seek them out at great expense and difficulty. In a sense, that's good, because the question of appropriate pain management is complicated enough even without considering marketing. Physicians who didn't know that opioids were addictive before prescribing them weren't victims of irresponsible marketing; they were poor physicians. That isn't to say that pain shouldn't be treated, rather it is to say that treating pain is difficult and we've done a poor job so far. Part of that is vilification of opioid users, part of it is abdicating all decisions to physicians. When I was 13yo I was capable of saying "no I don't need another shot of Demerol" while barely conscious in a hospital bed. Just the same, as long as I live, I will never forget the first two shots I did receive. They were that great. But that isn't pharma; we've used opioids for centuries.

When economic historians of the future consider the current era's pharma industry, they will marvel at how much money was spent for how little benefit. The cure to cancer will not come from pharma. (Quite possibly from biotech, but that's a different thing.) The incentives are wrong: cures are less valuable than indefinite treatments. Look how much they have to charge for the hep C cure. If that were a mere treatment, they could amortize their "research costs" over a lifetime. Even better than treatments that work are treatments that might work. One poor suffering patient might be prescribed 15 such, multiple times a day for the rest of her life.

Still, for many hep C sufferers even an expensive cure is a good thing. Many other conditions respond in agreeable ways to some medicines for some patients some of the time. Maybe the research costs too much for some of them. One suspects that a more rational FDA process could cut costs for most drugs, but no one who would benefit from that has any control over the process itself. The whole edifice is a bit monstrous. Just the same, if the golden goose requires drug marketing, do we really want to do away with drug marketing?

> USA drug purchases fund most global drug research

The drug industry likes to say that, but could someone back it up?

I work in pharma research in the US, so I'm pretty biased here, but I have thoughts. In my opinion, the more useful kinds of marketing is to physicians. Help them understand new products and where they fit in the treatment paradigm for whatever indications your company makes.

On the other hand, there are tons of people who have stories about knowing something was wrong, being told by 3 physicians that it was nothing, then finding a 4th who diagnosed them with something the others missed because a patient is usually their own strongest advocate.

A boss of mine a few years ago mentioned that he thought the best solution was for a disease to have ads. All of the companies that have drugs in market for that disease will want to buy in and say "Feeling X symptoms? Talk to your doctor; you might have Y". Of course there are still a ton of problems (there was no market for impotence until Pfizer re-branded it as ED, there are lots of diseases where there are low single digit options, etc), but it's a good start, in my opinion.

To tie this back to the topic at hand, there really isn't a trusted authority in the role of crypto purchases, aside from maybe a very forward-thinking/risky financial manager? Part of the problem is the very benefit: marketing to unqualified people gives access for anyone to grow their wealth, but also gives anyone the ability to lose a ton of money. It's sort of the central problem with Libertarianism overall.

> In my opinion, the more useful kinds of marketing is to physicians

Your colleagues in marketing agree with you, though they probably have a different definition for "useful". This 2012 article[0] says pharma spent $24B in marketing to professionals vs $4B to consumers. I assume relatively more is spent on consumers now but didn't find any more recent numbers.

It is also worth mentioning that pharma now spends more on marketing than research.

> On the other hand, there are tons of people who have stories about knowing something was wrong, being told by 3 physicians that it was nothing, then finding a 4th who diagnosed them with something the others missed because a patient is usually their own strongest advocate.

Are there any peer reviewed studies to back this up? As a researcher in the field I'm sure this is the threshold you would want to meet before making such an assertion.

Also, are there any studies that can tell us the ratio of marketing spent on informing consumers of legit ailments vs what is spent on kickbacks, hiring former cheerleaders as marketers, junkets for doctors, coupons for the on patent drug when the off patent drug works just fine, paying the generic company to not sell its drug to compete, etc or any of the other shady practices that pharma engages in?

[0] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/02/11/big-p...

Yes, Rx marketing to general public is legal in the USA, but the ads are regulated.

Rx advertising / marketing towards general public is banned in most countries.

However, many countries allow for Rx drug advertising / marketing targeted towards consumers.

What is the difference here? Aren't prescription drug consumers the general public?

Prescription drug consumers are a subset of the general public. But all of general public aren't prescription drug consumers.

That's essentially untrue in developed nations. Everyone has gotten a prescription at some point.

Unless you mean to say that drug companies can advertise to prescription drug users for the specific window when they happen to be actively taking a prescription drug. Which seems rather difficult to manage and would require a massive privacy violation to achieve. Plus I'm not clear what the delivery mechanism would be unless you're just talking about inserts delivered with the drugs themselves.

There seems to be a slight misunderstanding.

What that means is that the particular Rx drug being advertised can only be advertised to consumers of that Rx drug in question. So insulin can only be advertised to people with diabetes.

The interesting thing about this is that it leaves most of the power with the HCP.

As for the delivery mechanism, there weren't too many options in the recent past, however, these days there are POC marketing companies like Outcome Health (and others) and a growing number of software applications are aware of their user's health condition / needs (with permission of course either explicitly or by virtue of the intended use, like apps for diabetes patients, etc.).

Going to disagree with you. Doctors often have incentives to prescribe certain drugs over others that aren’t necessarily the best drug. If it’s legal to advertise to physicians then it should be legal to advertise to consumers. Ultimately the consumer is in charge of their own health and should have a say in their drug choices.

Let’s think of another industry — tires. Is a consumer typically an automotive engineer or a mechanic? Then why should it be legal to advertise tires to consumers? Ultimately a mechanic will have to install the tires. However, that certainly shouldn’t preclude a consumer making their preferences known. With meds, a doctor can always say no — and they should and do if it isn’t indicated for the particular affliction.

The idea that consumers need to be shielded from information is a bit weird to me.

Flagged for an egregious false equivalency. To pretend that the basic understanding of a tire and it's function and a understanding of the mechanisms of most prescription drugs is a stretch that will tear the fabric of credibility.

"This is a good tire, it will last longer than most and will serve you well. It is highly unlikely to interfere with any other parts of your car"


"This is a enzyme inhibitor that will degrade the signalling molecule cyclic guanosine monophosphate which will prevent smooth muscle relaxation. It could have unforeseen interactions with any number of different commonly imbibed chemicals."

Or even something like

"We don't even know about all the things this molecule could do inside your body, but one of the things we do know about turns out to be pretty useful, and so we have made an arrangement with the physicians cartel. You have to pay one of them to monitor your individual situation to make it less likely you die or suffer some horribly grievous injury. In exchange, they will absorb some of our product liability for the most frequent and least severe side effects. This is usually a win-win-win, but sometimes it's just win-win for us and the physicians and a loss for you."

When you want to pump people full of newly developed and recently tested chemicals, you do need someone capable of reading and understanding the publications of medical studies, and keeping track of all the recommendations published by the professional association. Auto mechanics do have a similar, less extensive sort of training in that they need to do the same kind of thing with service bulletins, but tire maintenance is one of those things that anyone with the right tool can do, like changing oil and filters or replacing brake pads.

Knowing what cryptocurrency is right for you is even simpler than that. None of them are. Even the very first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is still essentially in beta release, and not suitable for consumption by the general public. Anyone who can't or won't admit that the technology is not yet ready for wide-scale adoption is selling you vapor, and will probably run off with your money, leaving you with a bag of wooden nickels. That's why the ads are coming down. Every last one of them is a fraud, like the snake-oil panaceas of unregulated frontier pharmacologists that were pretty much just booze and opioids.

That's an abuse of flagging. Assume good faith in the gp. Be happy with your reply.

You don't flag a post because you disagree with the logic of the argument.

Favorited. I can understand a certain amount of protectionism being necessary but this just plain smacks of deciding that I'm too stupid to make decisions in my own interest. It's a very peculiar, and very infuriating sort of nannying.

That investing carries large amounts of risk isn't new or unknown to most. If you cash out your 401K and put it in AAPL, even a modest decline could eliminate your retirement. And those are the super-regulated "safe" investments as opposed to those super dodgy "not-safe" investments that are so awful you're not allowed to advertise for them anymore.

Do you have a medical degree? Then you're probably too stupid to properly make decisions in your best interest regarding medications/medical treatment.

This does not mean that Doug the village doctor isn't in Novartis' pocket and trying to shill their pills, just that your area of expertise is not nearly as high enough to make an accurate diagnosis of the best way to treat an ailment through medication.

> Do you have a medical degree? Then you're probably too stupid to properly make decisions in your best interest regarding medications/medical treatment.

Funny you mention this case. Do you think the state should choose the doctor and facility you go to? For example, below a certain income, you only have access to a certain type of facilites.

And what if the state said that you could only receive care from americans? because doctors outside of the US, even if they have international reputation and acclaim, or experience, or a great track record, you shouldn't be able to see them?

What if the us forbid you to leave the country to buy meds somewhere else as well, or to get care outside.

Beware: some of this are actually happening right now!

Not trying to pressure and persuade someone to take your pill is not the same as "shielding consumers".

Doctors aren’t, on average, as competent or on the ball as you think. They don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of every drug available.

A competent physician, like a competent programmer, doesn't need to have a every drug or library memorized. He needs adequate knowledge to know what to look for and where to find it.

Again, most physicians aren’t that competent. There’s an entire set of literature based around getting your doctor to think critically, because most of them have just done the professional equivalent of memorizing a bunch of flash cards. This is cheap and works for 90% of cases, but the result is that doctors don’t actually know (and don’t care to find out) about all the latest research relevant to the particular condition of one of their 1500 patients.

> There’s an entire set of literature based around getting your doctor to think critically

Sounds interesting; could you recommend something?

Unfortunately, they tend to look at their pocketbooks and kickback offers.

> Investment should not be driven by advertisement but by facts. In my experience, any investment advertisement tying to appeal to mass audiences is fraud.

That's just not how advertising works. Investments are products like anything else and advertising is literally designed to expand the number of people who might purchase a product. You can say this about any product with differing utility among possible users.

> Truck buying should not be driven by advertisement but by facts. In my experience, any truck advertisement tying to appeal to mass audiences is fraud.

I don't need a truck to live in the city, but that doesn't mean Chevy should be banned from running advertisements in a city.

The entire index fund & etf industries spent lots of advertising dollars educating the market about their products, including Vanguard.

Those are clearly not fraudulent.

That said, the crypto ads are less like that & more like the auction prize site ads, so good riddance.

In case you didn't know, most investment decisions are made by advertising or access.

If you step into a large bank, they'll tend to get a cut on each fund they sell you -- whether that is a good fund or a bad. Often these funds are also run by the bank, and they charge excessive fees for managing.

Pretty much all legitimate brokerage firms advertise to consumers. Quite a lot.

Can't most products be viewed as investments, from a house or car to a pair of shoes?

You buy into an investment because you expect a capital gain. You don't buy shoes in expectation of a capital gain.

Of course you don't expect a capital gain on shoes (for most people...there's always an exception [0]).

But you can still expect returns on shoes. Construction boots for construction workers, for example, are as much an investment as construction tools. An investment is more than just something that accrues value over time.

[0] http://www.businessinsider.com/18-year-old-entrepreneur-make...

Sure you do. You buy higher-end business shoes and suits to be eligible for management positions that pay better. Might not be the case in SV and the startup world, but it certainly is at most other companies.

That's not what capital gain means; you're not expecting to sell the shoes themselves to make a profit.

Correct, it's not a capital gain. It's a dividend.

and you invest in food because if you don't eat, then you'll die and make no more money!

That definition of "investment" includes almost everything anyone can possibly do.

No it doesn’t. One invests because the asset they are purchasing will either appreciate or generate cash flow.

“Food” doesn’t generally appreciate or generate cash flow. (Outside of obvious restaurant contexts.)

You can call food an “investment” but you could also call a dog a cat — that doesn’t make it so.


It's never that easy though: I can invest in a pair of shoes to get a job that makes me more money.

It's a slippery slope and with the decentralization revolution that is happening, this will only keep on getting more blurry.

You’re just redefining “investment” to be meaningless. There’s no slippery slope, unless your new shoes have leather soles.

I agree with the other commenter. The same could be said about anything you buy for yourself. I buy food so that I can keep my body functioning, in order to be able to produce value and make money. So buying potatoes is a kind of investment.

If you buy potatoes to eat, or even really to turn into french fries and sell, its an input.

If you buy them to HODL because you think potato options are going to bring you a return, it's an investment.

If you've invested in a global, decentralized game of hot potato, well, that's crypto ;)

If you are going to HODL, buy soy or corn or other cereal, potatoes rot too easy. [This is not financial advice!]

Somewhat related: A few years ago, in Argentina it was usual that the farmers keep most of their production of soy in big long bags in the field, because if they sold them they only could get pesos and with a 30% annual inflation it was better to keep the grains and sell them when they need to buy something. (In Spanish) https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silo_bolsa autotranslation https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev...

Thanks a ton for the financial advice. Gonna cash out my 401k to buy massive quantities of cereal for hodling.

Assets vs. Inputs.

An asset is something that puts money in your pocket. A liability is something that takes money from your pocket. Unless you are a professional runner or buying rare vintage sneakers — buying shoes isn’t “an investment.”

The purchase of shoes which reduces expected medical expenses associated with improper footwear may well be "something that puts money in your pocket", provided the expected savings outweigh the marginal opportunity cost of the shoes.

A durable good which you own in order to make yourself more productive is known as a capital good. Shoes, clothes, and shelter qualify, to the extent that having these things increases productivity. Food would not qualify, since it a consumable and not a durable good. The purchase of capital goods, for the purpose of increasing productivity, is investment.

Good. The amount of crazy ICO's I've seen is staggering. Most of them are surely scams in some sense. Reddit is filled with them.

What I think is most bizarre - I have friends with really decent businesses that try really, really hard to get a few hundred thousand in funding. And yet I see the most _terrible_ ideas with an ICO cap of 20 million dollars. Still people throw in the cash. Ideas with literally no need for a blockchain. But "everyone will be able to spend the token on [insert terrible idea]!"

'The most bespoke electric hypercar! With blockchain!' http://www.arrinera.io/ - I mean really?! I heard someone talking about "LGBT on the blockchain" the other day - "We'll aim for a conservative $40million ICO." Ridiculous.

> decent businesses that try really, really hard to get a few hundred thousand in funding

At a certain point I have to wonder if this is working along the lines of a lemon market. Coin investors don't know for certain whether they're being scammed, so they want an offer that will have positive expectation even after adjusting for scam risk. But founders do know, somewhat, the value of their ideas - and honest players are bounded by what they can actually return, while the deluded or dishonest can promise the moon. Eventually it only becomes possible to get investments by lying to people.

There are forces that should act as a brake here, of course; a sober idea asking for $200k ought to have lower risk than a stupid idea asking for $20M. But for some reason, that sort of risk discrimination isn't really happening at the moment. Maybe investors are over-eager, maybe the scam rate is so high at all price points to bury useful information, but it certainly looks like bad ideas are actually doing better.

People aren't buying those coins because they think there's a good idea there. They're buying them because they think they'll get rich quick and be able to cash out.

If you're not an accredited investor and want to invest in a startup you don't have many options. Cryptocurrencies unlock that for a lot of people, even if the startups are absolutely awful.

How much money is actually raised during ICOs? Market cap is based on marginal pricing, so it's completely meaningless in a cryptocurrency.

I always wonder who actually validates the money when somebody says they raised $20 mil in a private ICO. What keeps people from just claiming that to make other investors more willing and give an appearance of legitimacy?

I'd actually go as far as to say that ICOs are fraudulent by nature. The ones that are not fraudulent by intent just have no idea what they are actually doing.

They know exactly what they are doing. They are raising massive funds in an extremely short period of time with no direct obligation to provide returns to shareholders.

I like to think that some of them at least try to advertise them fairly (as some kind of crypto-kickstarter campaign), but I agree that any company that raises millions in a few days or mere hours without owing anybody anything in return is bound to fail due to a massive lack of incentive to produce.

>They know exactly what they are doing

Yep, it's deliberate. They're the backalley version of a regular stock offering.

They're marketing themselves as "opening investments up to the people" but they're simply a way to get money from investors without any of the very reasonable legal securities and obligations that come with a company going public.

Mixed feelings on this one. Most of them are likely to be scams as its so easy to do. But there are also things like the Brave browser[1] with its BAT(Basic Attention Token)[2], which am very excited about. With the Ad revenue on Internet falling all around, with Ad-blockers increasing. Brave, with BAT, provides a new way for publishers to get paid. Interestingly it also has the potential to disrupt Google's Adsense model. So there is an interesting element of incumbent (Google) and disruptor (brave) in there.

[1] https://brave.com/

[2] https://basicattentiontoken.org/faq/#meaning

edit: typo

The vast majority of cryptocurrency advertising is aimed directly at taking advantage of investors who probably don't know how to do proper diligence on such an early and untested technology.

I would put this squarely in the same vein as ads that might encourage you to 'buy our gemstone, it's going to be the new diamond'. Or 'our baseball cards are first edition and guaranteed to go up in value', etc.

I always thought the "guaranteed to go up in value" claim was silly. If it's guaranteed to go up in value, why would they want to sell it to me?

Money today is worth more than money tomorrow. If you have idle capital and I have something valuable, I can cash in sooner and you can get a valuable resource. So there is a legitimate reason for me to sell you something that is guaranteed to go up in value assuming that I want money now more than you do.

That's not an endorsement of any asset in the crypto space, and I would never remotely suggest that any token today is guaranteed to go up in value.

>Money today is worth more than money tomorrow.

This is not true for deflationary currency...like Bitcoin.

I haven't actually seen "guaranteed to go up in value" pitches but I believe the ones that do work on certain people take a more subtle form.

It's a bit like how poorly written spam makes professional-looking phishing look more convincing to the average person.

The most effective scams are the ones that fool people who think they couldn't have been fooled. Heck, you see it all the time with car advertisements, etc.

> I always thought the "guaranteed to go up in value" claim was silly.

So would 99.9% of people who see that ad. Everyone knows that if it sounds too good to be true, then it likely is. Especially in a paid advertisement. Modern consumers are more than well atuned to not trust every ad they hear.

If they don't see the glaring risk in cryptocurrencies, as it is constantly mentioned as being in the media nearly every time it's mentioned, or if they didn't spend a minute Googling them to see the countless headlines about it's volatility before gambling on it then I really wonder whether their money would be going to a place of value elsewhere anyway.

Otherwise plenty of people know the risk and are still willing to bet on it because it is possible to gain quite a bit from the growth. I know many people who have successfully. And many who are in it for the long term because they fully believe in the technology. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Even if the claim were true, then you could still make more money using someone else's capital.

It's the basis of the financial industry: You can make X using your own money, but you can make X+n using other people's money too.

You would think that 'great artists' would hold on to all of their paintings and not sell them, same with car manufacturers that produce 'limited editions'. Who knows whether the next 'Beatles' is out there, holding back all their recordings until 2050 so they appreciate in value.

Only if something has buyers does it have value, this is true with finance scams as well as real world over0valued items.

Did Google ban all scam ads out there? Is predatory lending banned? How about magical thinking supplements, systems, and other scams?

Also, wallets? What did the crypto wallet makers do wrong?

This, my friends, is monopoly capitalism at its finest; when corporate interests are threatened they come down on information exchange, which means they can disappear products. And since it's privately owned and not state owned, everyone's okay with it morally. Because cryptocurrency is naughty.

Let's ban drug discussion, too, it's naughty. How about hate speech, let's disappear search results for that. Who needs Big Brother when a massive surveillance apparatus that, quite frankly, is a headache to avoid (although I use duckduckgo and Firefox for all non tech stuff) can also disappear ideas and products without a popular vote or accountability?

One plus of all this is I won't have to see the Crypto Genius Reveals Next Bitcoin ad with the pic of the guy staring off in the distance in crooked glasses. Always hated that one.

Are you proposing that an ad for a placebo is as damaging as an ad encouraging people to gamble their life savings (bonus: on what may be nothing more than a pump and dump scheme)?

As an aside, I'm not sure what drug discussion or hate speech has to do with this at all.

Peter Hetherington, chief executive of IG Group, Europe’s largest retail trading website, said consumers would be “more likely to end up with reputable brokers and proper regulatory protection” following the changes.

But he warned that there were wider implications for financial services, saying: “Big American tech companies are increasingly influential in deciding how financial services products are marketed. This is fine if they get to the right answer . . . but a worrying precedent if they do not, since the normal checks and balances do not apply to their decisions.”

("Google to ban cryptocurrency adverts", Financial Times, March 15, 2018)

You've missed the point and are throwing a false equivalence argument at me. It's not about what's bad or not bad, it's about a non-elected, unaccountable corporation deciding what (non-illegal) content to make vanish. Just because you think all cryptocurrency is a scam doesn't mean it is. My drug discussion example is another example of protecting people from themselves (in the same way you want to protect them from the cryptocurrency world because your personal feelings have directed you towards the word 'damaging').

I support the ability for Google to make this decision but we should not be celebrating this as a good thing. Instead, it should strike fear. Google has a disproportionate amount of influence through its ads and cannot act in the best interest of all individuals.

The harms deriving from the possibility of doing bad must be balanced against the harms deriving from unwillingness to do good. Allowing toxic ads should strike fear as well, that browsing online is an unsafe "back alley" full of scams.

Since Facebook banned them I've seen a surge in them on Twitter. Will be interesting to see what they do, and whether it contributes anything meaningful to their profit situation.

I'm actually glad Google are (at least for the time being). Whilst rogue ICOs and crypto-pumpers are still working their stuff, the market is much more akin to back-street gambling and since there are already regs on AdWords for unsavoury ads, this fits the bill.

I see lots of ICO ads on Instagram, which uses Facebook's ad network. Probably they banned them only on Facebook, not in their ad network completely, or just lots of ads left unbanned.

Also lots of russian money scam ads posted from temporary accounts, this may be explanation why ICOs aren't banned too: they ban, but new ads are posted again and again.

i always see the scammiest ads on instagram (free yeezy'z)

We've created a generation of people who will do anything they are told to do. Now these big corps and governments feel like they have to baby-proof the world because we've created a bunch of lemmings who will give all their money to an ICO because a banner told them to.

"You are the 1 millionth visitor! Click here to claim your prize!"

Please. People have always been gullible, it's just that the scams have moved to more lucrative enterprises.

> we've created a bunch of lemmings who will give all their money to an ICO because a banner told them to.

It is a problem of basic finance education which should be part of the school curriculum. People also buy a lot of stuff they don't need or include false claims because a banner told them to.

And then the legal system is structured to essentially allow this behaviour because it's not worth the time or effort in most cases, and the system is designed for settlement, not for justice - settlement which most often requires agreeing to silence - which then prevents society from getting educated/learning of these problems.

I was just saying this the other day. I have been a steep learning curve about retirement accounts, mortgages, etc. There should really be a financial curriculum in high school, possibly all four years. This is basic information that everyone should be aware of.

isn't there some personal responsibility to teach yourself these things and not be stupid? Why do government funded schools have to teach people everything? And what subject will we cut to teach these things?

Couldn't that same argument be used against anything we currently teach in school?

The obvious answer to your first question is: It has severe detrimental effects to our society, and we'd all be better off if people were taught the basics.

> Why do government funded schools have to teach people everything?

I don't know any government funded school... do you? Beyond this, people need financial knowledge to make better decisions since finance skills are required on a daily basis in the modern world.

It's because if you start getting people to think critically about economics they will start to wonder why they are spending 40 hours a week working and getting no royalties(hint hint engineers).

Yes, the older and wiser generations NEVER fell for scams before, and the SEC were twiddling their thumbs until bitcoin came out.

Okay multiple generations of people who will do whatever an ad or authority figure tells them to.

Not sure SEC is a good example, since they are a corrupt organization focused on prohibiting class mobility. Their propaganda works better than ads on the same people.

Finally James Altucher can go back to doing what he does best.

Underrated comment.

Why only mention cryptocurrencies in the title? There are other financial products listed...

"Advertisers offering Contracts for Difference, rolling spot forex, and financial spread betting will be required to be certified by Google before they can advertise through AdWords. Certification is only available in certain countries."

This isn't rocket science:

"Hey, we shouldn't be supporting cryptocurrency advertisement any more, this could lead to trouble for us in the upcoming year and may be unethical"

"Why don't we take a look at all risky financial products that aren't easily understood but are marketed at layman investors"

"Great idea!"

"Definitely let's leave binary options out with cryptocurrencies, but we'll just leave in stricter controls for financial products which aren't complete scams"

Sounds like the opposite way FB handled Russian paid political ads for the US election.

Contract For Difference is being used to sell cryptocurrency exposure by some companies. I wouldn’t be surprised if CFD is marketed in other areas too.

Because HN has a boner for crypto.

About time. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:


Another talking parrot head.

I'm really interested in cryptocurrencies and excited about their future, but I'm disgusted by their use as a platform for scams. I'm afraid that I support this, and I really wish people in the cryptocurrency community would do more to educate people about scams.

Of course I suppose it's futile. Once this kind of mania takes off it takes on a life of its own.

Are you interested in crypto-assets if they're not structured like a Pyramid-Ponzi scheme, where wealth is redistributed weighted towards the earlier adopters - or are you excited about the potential of blockchains?

We already have currencies that worldwide could be transferred to a blockchain crypto-asset structure via governments destroying money ('take out' of traditional circulation) to put onto an immutable digital blockchain ledger, as opposed to someone receiving currency of choice in exchange (E.g. I give you this digital thing you call a 'coin', and you give me $1 USD).

If the main value is truly in the decentralized and immutable ledger aspects, then its use can eventually be State/government-mandated, instead of gaining collaboration through unreasonably incentivizing its adoption, no?

I think scammers are drawn to irreversibility of transactions (at least for the cryptocurrencies that I know). Can't call your credit card company and cancel the transaction.

Finally, some sense of responsibility kicks in.

Another platform is LinkedIn, where I have been getting a ton of invites from "Blockchain Experts", "ICO Experts" whom I have never heard of. Some of my connections are connected to them but I think that's more of a blind "Accept".

If you connect, I've noticed they immediately start promoting coins or ICO. Massive scam going on here. Hope LinkedIn bans these fake promotions too.

Hard to know if they're even real people or just bot-driven accounts.

> Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice)

The question here is where they draw the line. What about tools, software and services around the ecosystem but not promoting any particular cryptocurrency or related to trading?

I can see how it makes sense for them to block wallet ads for now seeing just how many forked scamwallets buy ads for e.g. MyEtherWallet to trick users into giving them their keys.

However, there are a growing number of companies offering services and products for the business sector that could get seriously affected by this.

As an example, it's clear that they won't ban HyperLedger consultants (HyperLedger is a blockchain platform without a cryptocurrency), but how about Ethereum consultants?

How about SDK vendors?

Because people here are uninformed and the ad ban was on phishing ads not ico related stuff.

Probably they found 90% of the ads are frauds or just plain fraud like in their proposed amount you will gain from buying the said cryptos. Bitcoin would not need advertisement for example.

Nah it was more targeted at phishing scams.

I find it interesting that this seems to be negatively affecting the blue chip coins. One might think that less competition would drive investors to them, not away.

It's almost as if the cryptocurrency markets are completely irrational and have magnitudes less value in them than their market caps claim to, and on top of this are pumped up even further by scammers printing fake money (Tether) to bolster the prices. Almost...

That said, I don't think the price dives have anything at all to do with advertising, and more to do with the fact that the bubble is slowly deflating.

More discussion at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16582266, though it is interesting to hear it straight from the Google's mouth.

Does this include software services related to cryptoasseta?

As somebody in the process of building a "cryptoasseta" app - I wonder that too.

ELI5: why does the world need a larger number of cryptocurrencies vs fewer/one instead?

(I’m not holding any position, I just want to understand the logic for either case)

Going off-topic, but I want to ask whether writing "ELI5" is really necessary? I find it too much of a redditism and while it doesn't seem to contravene any hn guidelines, I get the feeling that "simple" questions would garner a better audience without the ELI5 prefix. There's perhaps also the problem of it being an unnecessary abbreviation, specific to another community.

Alternatives (even though it takes more keystrokes) could be along the lines of "pardon my ignorance", "I'm new to this" or even simply "can someone explain". I bet these would receive just as good (if not better) responses.

Anyone agree or disagree?

Ill accept your constructive criticism.

For me ELI5 is just a visual anchor in a wall of text.

I don't think it has anything to do with quality of responses. If you compare r/AskReddit and r/ELI5, you'll find the latter tends to attract more comprehensive and structured comments.

I think you are overthinking it entirely

That could well be true, so I thought I'd throw it out there to check if I was (comparatively) the only one who isn't really a fan of "ELI5".

So the other alternative is to have more ELI5 prefixes for questions. It's something I never question on reddit since that's where it has orginated and flourished, but since this is hacker news I figured it'd be safer to overthink than underthink.

Y’all motherfuckers best overthink on hack her news

That’s what I always say...

But seriously - we need a method for which is accepted where individuals can ask elementary questions for topics they have less knowledge than an expert in the field.

Thus, I think that “ELI5” encapsulates this.

What I am opposed to is suppression of sharing knowledge. So don’t shut people who use a moniker/meme from gaining the info they seek. Educate them and expand.

So, if you have some better way of expressing “Hey I don’t know anything about this subject, please give me some simple pointers, thanks”+

Edit: I just realized we said the same thing

If there's only one, and it's not run by you, how can you scam people with it? Get with the program!

Many coins are iterating on the technology introduced by Bitcoin.

Some of the coins are tokens that can be used in exchange for something (e.g. siacoin in exchange for decentralized storage).

why does the world need a large number of gift cards vs fewer/one instead? It is because of the perceived benefits of being a gift card holder/token holder.

It doesn't need a large number of gift cards, hence why debit/credit cards exist.

gift cards are a tool to use to engage the user and almost every store in a common mall will have one

Thank god oh no, actually thanks to Google. I don't have to see stupid Youtube cryptocurrency video ads which are mostly FAKE and a waste of time.

It is interesting to note that OTOY will launch RNDR (Render Token) [1] in Ethereum and their advisory board includes Eric Schmidt from Google [2].

[1] https://rendertoken.com/

[2] https://home.otoy.com/advisory-board/

Facebook: Hey everyone! No more cryptocurrency ads.

Google: We're banning them too.

Big Pharma: But not us right?

Google: No, we appreciate your business...

Facebook: How much are you looking to spend??

Dumb comparison. At least medicine heals people.

Now if only they would ban the 50-second, unskippable, "legal steroid" ads that are popping onto YouTube...

I wonder how much of current ad revenue (Google/FB) is coming from cryptocurrency related companies and how this might negatively impact their earnings.

However, it may be a small amount or they both factored this change into their forecasting before announcements.

Advertizing scams may give short term profit, but could also lead to long term losses as websites choose to move to a different, less scammy platform.

This is probably a case where the short term financials is the exact wrong way to think about the problem.

google is way too big for this to matter.

After reading about the timeframe, I now think this might be a reason they are blocking ads starting in June, if something is bad, why not stop now, instead of at the start of a new quarter. (when these ads may have likely scammed people for a few more months)

Well, that explain the bunny token ad I was seeing 1 hour ago :-) On serious note, it will take some time to implement.

I am actually glad they did it. This should make it harder for ponzi-like schemes to get traction, so hopefully, it will make price less volatile.

I remember being appalled that Japanese subway cars had FX trading ads targeted towards retail "investors" as a fun and easy to make some money. I hope that this hasn't proliferated to cryptocurrencies as well.

Does it mean I can't advertise the points project on Google? https://pointsproject.org

I thought it was a fad that had already passed. I'm sort of surprised to see this level of discussion about cryptocurrency.

Now all the alt-right and conspiracy bloggers who got kicked off of adwords will have something to advertise.

ICO = IPO without all those pesky regulations and gated access.

Which is both good and bad, of course.

No, it's just bad. It's the stupidest thing ever. ICOs are so incredibly stupid that it's mind boggling.

"Hey, give us $50,000 and we'll give you a token that will hopefully be worth 10x once we dupe a bunch of other suckers like you! If you're really, really lucky we'll build something marginally useful and might even use that token you bought to power it! Now you can use your $50,000 in tokens to power a decentralized photo sharing app that you could have gotten for free by just using google drive! Woww!"

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