Baidu, China’s largest search engine and web services company, has recently halted all Bitcoin and cryptocurrency-related advertising on its network.
CnLedger, a Chinese media network which recently received a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China earlier this week, broke the news on August 25, 2016.
Baidu has stopped all virtual coin related keyword advertising (Paid Search), including #bitcoin— cnLedger (@cnLedger) August 25, 2016
While many Bitcoin online forums and communities somewhat expected a government pressured company like Baidu to set a negative precedent for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, the announcement of Baidu is quite ironic considering the fact that the internet giant invested in Circle, a Bitcoin-based money-sending application just two months ago.
Why did they stop it?
Although Baidu’s intentions regarding the termination of their cryptocurrency-related advertisements are not clear, two possible reasons could be:
- They are terminating all cryptocurrency advertisements due to the high volume of Ponzi schemes or scam-like cryptocurrency advertisements on its search engine and web platform.
- A request from the government to ban any cryptocurrency-related advertisements.
If Baidu banned its advertisements on cryptocurrencies because of the first theory, then it is most likely that the company may introduce a censorship system in its advertising network so that only a few legitimate advertisements can go through. For instance, advertisements for well known Bitcoin platforms like Circle, Bitpay and Coinbase can be verified by the Baidu administrators while scam-like advertisements are banned permanently by Baidu.
Making space for state-owned cryptocurrencies
However, if it is the government who pressured Baidu to remove all cryptocurrency-related advertisements, then it may be the Chinese government’s plan to censor out independent cryptocurrencies and push for the advertisement of state-owned and government controlled Blockchain networks and cryptocurrencies.
China’s commercial banks have already established a consortium to conduct research on Blockchain technology and have also introduced various applications to evaluate its applicability in the Chinese financial industry. Thus, although unlikely, it makes the second theory a possibility.
Since Google is banned in China and Baidu is the only search engine in existence, the termination of cryptocurrency-related advertisements carries a significant denotation.