TikTok has officially updated its branded content policy to ban all financial services and products from being promoted on the platform. This means that influencers will no longer be able to encourage their followers to invest in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Dogecoin, share trading advice or lure you in with questionable BNPL (“buy now, pay later”) schemes.
So-called financial influencing is nothing new for social media apps and influencers. Kim Kardashian once promoted altcoin Ethereum Max on her Insta Story, while a few months ago American TikTok personality Tana Mongeau was recommending her 6.5 million followers invest in Titscoin, a cryptocurrency which donates to cancer research.
Even TikTok’s teenage “CEOs” Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, aged 17 and 19 respectively, posted a partnership with crypto-exchange Gemini to their family Instagram in May. “We are learning more about cryptocurrency as a family, thank you @gemini for Charli’s birthday gift. #GeminiPartner,” the post read, even though Gemini’s policy states that investors must be 18 or older to use the service.
“We believe it’s important to provide financial literacy and access to educational resources about cryptocurrency through various channels,” a spokesperson for Gemini said in June. “Gemini also works with influencers […] to help educate their followers about cryptocurrencies and raise awareness about the Gemini brand.”
According to TikTok, the move to ban these types of promotions has been made in an attempt to stop widespread defrauding and scams across the Chinese-owned app. This comes just weeks after Beijing announced a crackdown on crypto-mining over climate crisis concerns. While these changes to TikTok’s branding policy will come into effect imminently, the company’s advertising policy – which allows financial service companies to advertise to adults – will remain.
Nevertheless, this crackdown could be positive. Half-baked financial advice from influencers, who themselves are trying to make a quid? Your NatWest advisor is shaking. The disingenuity of it all is where problems arise, as young, often impressionable followers are encouraged to invest cash into ventures they themselves don’t fully understand.
Unfortunately, many young people take financial tips and advice from TikTok at face value, making the app a fertile ground for spontaneous investments made with little research to back them up. This stuff isn’t limited to crypto, though – just yesterday, it was reported that BNPL schemes such as Klarna could affect your chances of getting a mortgage, even if you never miss a payment.
Watch your coins, kids. And don’t take advice from strangers, etc.