It’s no secret that Google is not the cryptocurrency markets greatest fan. In June they decided to ban ads for all cryptocurrency related products and they removed certain cryptocurrency wallets from their Play Store. Like many critics of cryptocurrencies, their argument for the ban was mainly about security since it had become harder to distinguish between legitimate and fake Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).
Recently, they have gone back on their plans. Last month, the search engine giant announced that it will begin allowing ads for certain cryptocurrency exchanges in the US and Japan. However, to be admitted, the platforms have to be approved. While this policy still excludes ICOs, wallets, and trading advice, the fact that they are allowing some crypto advertising shows their confidence in parts of the cryptocurrency market. The market has recently suffered many losses due to people’s lack of confidence. Many countries are trying to ban their citizens from participating in all cryptocurrency activities. Nonetheless, if such a powerful silicon valley company begins to approve them, it may help restore people’s confidence and improve the market.
Even so, this amicable relationship took a few steps back when Google made a not so loving joke at the expense of cryptocurrency, in an ad. The ad in question is designed to promote call-screen, a new feature of the Pixel phone. It’s capable of screening phone calls so people are less likely to accept phone calls from scammers. Google enlisted two correspondents from the late night talk show - The Daily Show.
In the ad, Dulcé Sloan and Ronny Chieng acted as Google employees presenting the new feature. From the first call with a “prince,” it was established that Chieng was the one susceptible to scammers while Sloan was the clear-headed and bright one. The ad took the wrong turn when Sloan detected a call from the electric company about the monthly bill being super high. Chieng claimed that mining for cryptocurrency takes a lot of energy. Sloan responded by saying that cryptocurrency is not real money. Then, Chieng claimed no money is real.
This Google ad may seem harmless at first. It’s presented as a joke by comedians, but it has a lot of harmful potential. Based on their background, Google doesn’t accept cryptocurrency and this is clearly stated in this ad. There are many scenarios that could have worked to promote the call-screen feature. The fact that Google chose to include cryptocurrency shouldn’t be taken lightly. It wanted to make a statement to its customers.
This makes us look at the ban reversal with a different lens. When it was first announced, it seemed like Google was opening the door for cryptocurrencies. Now it seems like Google is trying to set a trap because on one hand they're giving cryptocurrency exchanges the go ahead, and on the other they’re telling their customers to avoid crypto’s by calling them ‘not real’. It would seem that Google believes that cryptocurrencies are a scam since only slow people who are very susceptible to obvious scam calls are participating in the market. This may cause another step back for the community who was just getting their hopes up about being accepted by Google. While it’s just a joke in an ad for now, the bad blood might escalate quickly.
Hermione is a Haitian-born writer who has been living in the USA since 2010. She earned her Bachelor’s degrees in English Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies at Florida International University. She has done both creative and technical writing during her years in the writing industry. She’s currently pursuing a career in the medical field.