Under increased scrutiny from government authorities, the social media giant, now known as Meta, yet familiar to most of us as Facebook, is facing ultimatums from Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES). Echoing growing global concerns, the Thai DES has drawn a hard line in the sand against fraudulent cryptocurrency investment scams advertised on the platform.
The ministry’s concerns are not unfounded. According to a public statement on the ministry’s website, these misleading ads have targeted and affected over 200,000 people. Consequently, Minister Chaiwut Thanakmanusorn has sternly informed a Thai court to prepare an order which might turn off the Facebook lights in Thailand by the end of the month should the platform chooses not to comply.
But this is not the first time Facebook finds itself under the regulatory spotlight. Over the past three years, Facebook has eased its restrictions on cryptocurrency and blockchain-related advertisements, CoinDesk previously reported. Facebook’s diminishing ad constraints broadened acceptance of regulatory licenses mandating such ads, but at the other end of the spectrum, opened the floodgates for potential fraudulent activity.
Just last month, indeed echoing similarly across the globe, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission dragged the company to court. The allegation? Engaging in false, misleading, or deceptive conduct by publishing scam crypto ads associated with renowned Australian celebrities.
The scenario draws forth a compelling tension associated with the rapid growth of the crypto market. On the one hand, a laissez-faire approach on the part of platforms like Facebook could potentially foster the growth of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, by giving these nascent industries the much-needed exposure. On the other hand, the same lax regulations open the Pandora’s box of malicious actors exploiting unsuspecting individuals.
In the meantime, varying degrees of scepticism and optimism intermingle in the backdrop of these regulatory skirmishes. Facebook’s Meta universe also doubles as a potentially serious player in the future of blockchain, crypto payments and even non-fungible tokens. Yet, as this incident perfectly illustrates, the company remains caught between promoting these advancements and infringing upon regulatory domains.
The saga will continue to evolve, and as it does, the conversation around socially responsible blockchain adoption will hopefully advance as well. For every potential misuse, there are several valid and beneficial uses of this technology. Striking a balance that enables growth, whilst ensuring safety, will be key to actualising the vast possibilities this technology harbors.