As you are probably aware, Google has a fraught relationship with Bitcoin (BTC) in particular, and cryptocurrencies in general. It’s a problem, because YouTube, which Google owns, is awash with videos about digital assets. What we have seen is that whenever possible, Google has tried to raise barricades against the oncoming tide of crypto information, in all its forms, including apps and websites, which has caused crypto fans to accuse the media giant of censorship.
We have only just begun 2020, and already Google has lashed out by removing Bitcoin Blast, a BTC rewards game from the Google Play store, on the gorunds that it uses “deceptive practices.” According to Billy Bambrough at Forbes, Bitcoin Blast was available on the Apple app store on 24th January, but was removed a week later. Apple said that it violated certain of its app policies, but said it could come back if it “can be brought up to code.”
Daniel Rice, cofounder and chief technology officer at Bling, the make of Bitcoin Blast, said in a post, “We were not removed for being involved with cryptocurrency,” but added, “it’s also possible that Bitcoin Blast will never return to an Apple platform.”
The irony is that Bitcoin Blast’s users rather liked the puzzle game that rewards users with bitcoin-redeemable loyalty points and boasts a 4.5 rating from some 20,000 ratings and 13,000 reviews. They complained to Google about the sudden removal of their entertainment. And this had a positive effect. Although, Bling, did have to make a public plea for support, and it was only after this happened that Google reversed its decision.
It isn’t the first time that Google has waded reversed a decision regarding a crypto-related app or site. It tried to ban most of the bitcoin-related content creators from YouTube, only to face a backlash from users that forced a change of heart.
Not long after this, Google suspended the popular MetaMask crypto wallet and mobile browser app backed by Ethereum incubator ConsenSys from the Play Store, only to eventually reinstate it.
This behaviour is rather odd, and it is no wonder that companies such as Bling are questioning what their future relationship they might have with Google, if any at all. Bling’s CEO, Amy Wan wrote, “Google’s suspension cited their ‘deceptive behavior’ policy … but did not state exactly what behavior Google thought was deceptive,” and she advices other businesses to avoid putting all their products on a Google platform. Furthermore, she said that Google couldn’t answer the question regarding what was “deceptive” about the Bitcoin Blast app.
As Billy Bambrough says, Google’s “twitchy trigger finger and the speed at which the ban hammer falls is, understandably, making people nervous.”
Certainly, it needs to rethink its battle strategy, because at the moment, it looks like every action is a simplistic knee-jerk reaction, rather than a well-considered approach based on evidence.